5 Reasons You Get the Hiccups After Eating and How to Rid Yourself of Them ASAP

Photo: Getty Images/Eva Katalin
If you've ever gotten a bad case of the hiccups after eating, you know how irritating they can be. But what are these annoying fits in the first place?

"Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle," explains, Vincent Pedre, MD, a functional medicine specialist. "They can happen at different rates. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the vocal cords will contract to prevent the unexpected inflow of air." This is what causes the hiccuping sound Dr. Pedre says. To put it simply, "a hiccup is basically a spasm of both your diaphragm and vocal cords," he says.

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As you let that science sink in, scroll down to see what causes hiccups after eating. Plus, how to get rid of them, stat.

What causes hiccups after eating?

1. Eating too quickly

You might be familiar with the way that swallowing air causes bloat, but it can also cause hiccups. Often it happens when you eat too quickly. Swallowing air while eating or drinking "distends the stomach rapidly, and can thus irritate the diaphragm muscle," says Dr. Pedre. "The diaphragm reacts to this sudden distension by contracting."

2. Eating beyond the point of being full

Similarly, when you eat too much your stomach expands and jostles anything in its close proximity. This often includes the diaphragm, which when pushed against, can cause hiccups.

3. Sudden and extreme temperature changes

Say you spend a hot summer day outside only to retreat into the AC (or the opposite temp flip in winter) and eat immediately, the sudden change in temperature can lead to contractions of the diaphragm causing post-meal hiccups.

4. Hot and spicy foods

Chili peppers and other spicy ingredients have a chemical compound called capsaicin which can irritate the diaphragm resulting in a bout of the hiccups. Something to think about next time you ask a friend to pass the bowl of cauliflower buffalo wings, amirite?

5. Consuming carbonated drinks

Here's another cause both bloating and hiccups have in common. The extra air in you inhale when drinking sparkling water with your meal, for example, might give you a bad case of both by dessert.

How to get rid of hiccups after eating

1. Hold your breath

You've probably heard this one before. The idea behind it is that taking a sudden gasp of air should reset the stretch receptors in your diaphragm bringing an end to the hiccups, according to Dr. Pedre.

2. Get frightened

The idea is similar to holding your breath—being scared often elicits a sudden gasp and change in your breathing, which can stop the hiccups. It's just harder to pull off since you can't really do it to yourself and if you ask someone else to do it, you could end up expecting it ruining the surprise factor. So instead, try watching an episode or two of something like American Horror Story.

3. Set off your gag reflex

Dr. Pedre says that one of the lesser known ways to get rid of the hiccups is to gag yourself. You can do this by using a tongue depressor or gently pulling on your tongue. In doing so you'll stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls your gastrointestinal tract and plays a role in the contraction of your diaphragm.

4. Gargle water

Similarly, gargling water can help influence the vagus nerve into easing your hiccups by quelling the contraction of your diaphragm.

6. Massage your diaphragm

To deal with the problem, you can also go to its root. "A gentle massage of the diaphragm along the borders of the ribs is a good way to try and resolve hiccups," says Dr. Pedre.

7. Drink water

Although sudden temperature changes might have caused your hiccups in the first place, drinking a glass of cold water (which is known to soothe nerves) is an easy home remedy to try to battle hiccups.


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