Why are my hiccups painful?

Have you ever been surprised by a sudden burst of hiccups that just won’t seem to go away? Then, as if the constant hiccuping wasn’t bad enough, they also start hurting like crazy! What gives?! Well, have no fear my dear reader because we’re going to explore the world of hiccups and find out exactly why these pesky little things can be so damn painful.

The Anatomy of a Hiccup

Before we dive into why hiccups can be painful, let’s first take a look at how they even occur in the first place. A hiccup is an involuntary contraction (spasm) of your diaphragm muscle – that dome-shaped muscle located at the base of your lungs involved in breathing (which you may or may not know depending on your knowledge about human anatomy). When this contraction happens suddenly and unexpectedly, it causes air to rush into your lungs which creates that iconic “hic” sound we all know and love…or hate.

Hiccups typically only last for a few minutes before disappearing entirely but sometimes they hang around much longer than anyone would like them to. When this happens, it becomes known as protracted or persistent hiccups. These episodes usually last for more than 48 hours straight (I couldn’t even imagine…) and are often caused by nerve damage or irritation.

Now that we understand what constitutes as a hiccup episode let’s move on to our main question:

Why Do Some People Experience Pain With Their Hicccups?

There are several reasons why someone might experience pain when they have hiccups:(It’s Not Just Bad Luck!) Let’s examine:

Reason #1: Acid Reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into your esophagus causing an uncomfortable burning sensation known as heartburn. But did you know that acid reflux can actually trigger hiccups (Unfortunately…yes)? This is because stomach acid irritates the diaphragm, causing it to contract more forcefully than usual which in turn, makes your hiccups feel extra painful.

Reason #2: Irritated Nerves

Another common cause of painful hiccups stems from nerve damage or irritation surrounding the area under your ribs where your diaphragm muscle is located( Ahhhh.. THE INTERCOSTAL SPACE) . Under normal circumstances, these nerves help regulate your breathing but if they become damaged or irritated (think chest surgery or a respiratory infection), then they can send signals to your diaphragm that increase its contractions and make those pesky hiccups even more painful.

Reason #3: Damage To The Diaphragm Muscle

The final reason why someone might experience pain during hiccuping episodes is due to physical injury of the diaphragm itself (Which makes intuitive sense since there are muscles involved). This could be caused by an accident that directly involves this area such as a hit to the chest for example. A weakened, strained or torn diaphragmatic muscle may lead one experiencing excessive discomfort and annoyance while struggling with their hiccup bouts.

How To Eradicate Those Painful Hicccups

Now that we’ve got an understanding of what can cause painful hiccups,(the agony!), let’s explore some ways we may be able to stop them before our poor little torsos suffer any longer:

Technique #1: Hold Your Breath

Holding your breath might sound simple- (simple maybe… torture most definitely!) -but according to research studies from medical experts, taking deep breaths and holding them as long as possible will help quickly reset rhythms within the body forcing HALT on persistent spasms.(Works every time!)

Technique #2: Try Drinking Water

This method requires a little imagination. Picture yourself drinking water from an upside-down glass (sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?). Drink as fast as you can with your head tipped forwards toward the ground. This increases pressure within your throat and chest which in turn aid contracted muscles to relax, clearing away those annoying outbursts of hiccups almost immediately.( who knew?)

Technique #3: Scare Yourself Silly

You might have heard about this one before, but is it safe? Startle reflexes are natural and human beings usually jump or become frightened when there’s sudden loud noises coming from behind. It turns out that being scared could actually work to stop hiccups too! Legend says if someone scares you while suffering from hiccups; they well surely come to abrupt end!( With all due respect we haven’t tried this scientifically so proceed at your own risk)

Granted that sometimes scary movies can be intense , What do you think works better- Stanley Kubrick( The Shining) OR Kiki Gyan/Ali Farka Toure?!( I’m just kidding -moviewise)
But seriously, any loud sound will suffice

Technique #4 : Embrace Some Sugar Therapy

Finally let’s talk dessert 🍰 💝! One remedy suggests ingesting sugar . Take a teaspoon of granulated suger,(No artificial sweeters though!) throwing it back into your mouth followed by swallowing down with some water-it has been said that this helps desensitize the vagus nerve which plays a significant role in regulating our involuntary body functions + gives relief against hics.

There are many weird and wacky methods people may utilize for eradicating stubborn hiccup episodes — like holding onto their ears for example– But trust me these four (4) step techniques should cover most bases on ways one may cease chronic percocious contractions.
Now It’s over to you- which one are you going to try?(Sugar maybe?)


Hiccups can be annoying on their own, but when they become painful too it can quickly feel like the end of the world (okay, maybe not quite that dramatic!). However, by understanding what causes these pesky spasms and utilizing some pretty unconventional methods for stopping them in their tracks.(These strange method do come in handy!)
At least now we know that relief is possible -even when those distressing waves of contractions seem never-ending!.