Top 6 Myths about Hiccups You Should Know.

Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.

Myth 1: Hiccups Stop your heart.

What are hiccups? are they related to your heart.

Hiccups are a sudden involuntary contraction of your respiratory muscles (the diaphragm and the intercostal muscle), resulting in sudden inspiration.

The second stage of hiccups is the epiglottis’s abrupt closure, which stops the inspiration and produces the (hic) sound.

Your heart is not involved in the action of hiccups. Therefore, your heart doesn’t stop momentary during the hiccup as thought before.

Do hiccups stop your heart?

No, hiccups are unlikely to stop your heart. The normal bouts of hiccups pass without any effects on your heart. However, rarely, forceful or prolonged hiccups can slow down your heartbeats and cause complications such as carotid dissection and hypotension.

Although severe or prolonged hiccups can slow down your heartbeats (AKA bradycardia), no evidence suggests that hiccups can cause cardiac arrest (stopping your heart).

Myth 2: Hiccups mean you are growing.

Centuries ago, people believed that hiccups helped you grow taller. However, the recent scientific research on hiccups counteracts this belief.

Hiccups are contractions of the diaphragm and the intercostal respiratory muscles. The benign acute type of hiccups that lasts for minutes is often triggered by either digestive conditions or emotional reasons such as fear and anxiety.

There is no evidence that hiccups play a role in growth or affect the length of your bones. The only link is a theory suggesting hiccups may help fetus and newborn respiratory muscles grow and gain power (reference).

Myth 3: Hiccups serve a purpose.

Until now, We don’t clearly understand the purpose of hiccups. All we have are theories; none can be proved 100%.

Although we know about the causes and triggers of hiccups, hiccups’ exact purpose or benefit is still ambiguous.

Some of the theories explain the purpose of hiccups:

  • Irritation of the diaphragm leads to its sudden contraction to get rid of the irritant.
  • Training of the respiratory muscles of the fetus and newborn (that is why hiccups are more frequent in fetuses and newborns).
  • Represent a form of epilepsy! (reference).
  • Help clearance of meconium at birth (the first newborn poop) (reference).
  • An evolutionary remnant originated with gill ventilation (as in fish) (reference).
  • A reflex to move boluses of food trapped in the esophagus (reference). 

None of the above theories fully explain hiccups. We need more research. 

Myth 4: Hiccups are contagious.

Some people think hiccups are contagious as yawning. However, yawning is contagious to other people and pets as dogs (reference).

Hiccups are not known to be contagious to the people surrounding you. However, it can be a co-incident that people who eat together or laugh experience hiccups simultaneously. But this can be explained by triggers such as quick eating or laughing.

Myth 5: Hiccups directly cause death.

Although hiccups are more common in terminally ill patients, No recorded case of direct death from hiccups.

Hiccups appear to result from the terminal illness, not a cause of it. Severe or prolonged hiccups may rarely cause serious complications such as heart arrhythmias and blood vessel rupture, but it is an extremely rare case.

On the other hand, Hiccups can signify a condition or disease affecting your nervous, respiratory, digestive, or cardiovascular system. Simply hiccups that you experience during eating or excitement are often benign in nature and last for minutes without any complications.

Myth 6: All hiccups are not serious.

To main types of hiccups:

  • Acute hiccups: they last for minutes, with a maximum of 48 hours, and are often self-limiting and benign.
  • Chronic hiccups: any hiccups that last for 48 hours are considered chronic. Chronic hiccups usually occur as a result of a disease or condition.

Examples of serious causes of hiccups include:

  • Brain stroke. 
  • Brain tumors.
  • Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
  • Peptic ulcer disease. 
  • Renal failure.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes around the esophagus and trachea (mediastinal lymph nodes).
  • FB inside your ear canal.
  • Enlarged thyroid.
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack).

The complete list of causes, types, and treatment of hiccups are discussed in-depth HERE.

MORE: Causes of Chronic Hiccups (for two days or more).