Daily Health Tips: Belching And Hiccups


Q: Dr. thank you for all the medical and health advice.  Please I have hiccups or belching constantly such that my chest pains me most of the time.  I have received so many treatments, done Echo test, MCR, several scan and X-ray, ECG etc that the Dr. advised me not to do or take more medications for that as I have taken so much over the years. Now I notice that if I keep away from food or heavy food, I feel better but I am leaning and feel tired because of hunger. What else should I do? Thank you.

A: Belching and hiccups are actually quite alike in terms of causes.

Belching is your body’s way of getting rid of excess gas.

‘Excess gas’ is produced in the body when we swallow it or when our body produces it as a result of what we have eaten. This is usually caused by the twin factors of what you have eaten and how you chose to eat it.

 

For what you have eaten, easy culprits are rich, fatty foods, beans, dairy (especially in lactose intolerant people), high fibre foods (if lots of water is not taken afterwards) etc.

How can how you eat cause you a problem?

 

If you tend to over-eat or rush your food (eat it very fast or like a friend of mine would say, ‘inhale’ it :D), then you are a target for bloating. The reason is that you eat so fast that you don’t give enough time for signals to travel to your brain from the stomach confirming that you are full. By the time that signal arrives, you are all stuffed up and bloated to boot! Note that it may take up to 20 minutes for those signals that confirm fullness to get to the brain…sounds like a long journey 😀

Other causes of bloating are swallowed air (which can happen when we eat too fast or drink too fast) and smoking.

 

Prevention?

This is really simple: Reduce portion sizes, limit your intake of fats, eat slowly, quit smoking and limit your intake of foods that cause this, if all else fails.

If your bloating is caused by swallowed air, avoid carbonated drinks (most soft drinks fall into this category), don’t drink with straws (at least on a regular basis) avoid chewing chord…oh, sorry! 😀 I meant to say, avoid chewing gum and stay off your candies that you suck so hard and suck in quite a bit of air too!

 

Remember that if this ‘gassiness’ continues ‘regularly, you should see your doctor to be sure this is not the symptom of something else.

 

Hiccups refer to involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. This is followed by sudden closure of the vocal chords with the resulting hiccup sound at the top of the windpipe.

Hiccups are quite common and can affect any age group. They usually occur without provocation and last for a few minutes before disappearing. These episodes may be linked to:

  • Bloating…which may be a factor in your case, given your belching.
  • Eating or drinking too quickly (in which case a lot of gas/air is taken in. Again, this could be a factor in your case)
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking fizzy or hot drinks
  • Sucking on candy

However, sometimes hiccups may last for prolonged periods and in these cases are associated with underlying medical conditions:

  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Alcoholism
  • Stroke
  • Neck tumours

Most cases of hiccups do not require treatment. However, some may persist requiring treatments with drugs, injection of medications and/or surgery depending on the underlying condition.

I am sure most of you may have tried many home remedies like

  • Putting a thread on your head! This one is laughable and I do not know anyone it has helped.
  • Sipping on cold water. Well, if it helps, why not?!
  • Holding your breath for a bit. Again, if it helps, go for it.

So, I suggest that you note the triggers noted here (generally, things that make you gassy), stay away from them and see if that helps. The triggers for belching and hiccups are basically same…factors that cause you to swallow a lot of air. Don’t stay away from food completely….we need you alive 😀 I believe this will help. Be sure to also check in with your doctor for a proper diagnosis to be made, if this continues.

Have a good night, people 😀

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