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Why alcohol makes you hiccup

HealthBy Sunday World
Why alcohol makes you hiccup

You’ve had a few drinks and are feeling well and truly in the festive spirit. But just as you’re chatting to that person you’ve had your eye on all night they start: the dreaded drunken hiccups! We all know alcohol has embarrassing side effects, but this is one of the most mysterious. So just why are we plagued by them?

Look up hiccup in the dictionary and you’ll find it described as: “an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs, with a sudden closure of the glottis and a characteristic gulping sound.”

Often caused by acid reflux, fizzy drinks may be the worst culprit. "It could be that alcohol promotes acid reflux and that could be irritating the oesophagus," Gina Sam, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Shape.com.

But while hiccups might be a bit embarrassing, she adds they’re usually nothing to worry about.

"It's when they become persistent - lasting for a day, 48 hours, or a week - that we become concerned," she continued, revealing it could be a sign of cancer or an issue in the brain. "Patients who have had kidney problems or any irritation in the head, neck, or chest areas can also have the hiccups."

So how can you go about stopping the hiccups? Most experts agree they are involuntary and you just have to let them pass, however there are some old wives’ tales.

Some people swear a shock can do the trick – so maybe check your post-Christmas bank balance!

Others believe in holding your breath for 20 seconds, while some say you should sip a glass of water slowly. We’d take the water option – it might also save you a monster hangover the next day.

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