The unwarranted hiccup after a meal isn’t just a dinner party buzzkill, it can be downright uncomfortable.

But why the heck are you only getting hiccups after you eat? Here’s what’s to blame (and how to avoid) that unwanted hiccup interruption.

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A quick anatomy lesson. Your esophagus is the tube that connects your stomach to your throat.

A 2012 research review showed that if your esophagus gets irritated after a nom-fest, this can lead to those pesky hiccups. Post-meal, jean-button-undoing bloat can also be to blame. Here’s what can cause these scenarios.

1. Eating too fast

Eating too fast means your stomach is filling up too quickly, causing it to become swollen and bloated (aka distension). This can trigger hiccups as your stomach presses or irritates your diaphragm (the muscle right above your stomach that helps you breathe).

2. Temperature changes

Even a temp change can cause hiccups. If you chow down on something super hot or cold, it could irritate the temperature of your esophagus and lead to hiccups. This could also be related to stimulating the phrenic nerve and the vagus nerve that cause the diaphragm to contract.

3. Spicy foods

Spicy food not only sets your mouth on fire 🔥, but it can also irritate the phrenic nerve and the vagus nerve near your esophagus.

4. Nonfood things

Have you ever been so excited that you suddenly started hiccuping seriously loudly? Yeah, that’s normal. Other nonfood things that can cause hiccups include inhaling cold air and emotional stress.

5. Eating dry food and bread

Dry food can irritate the back of your throat, and is often harder to chew (making it easier to swallow more air and cause hiccups).

6. Drinking seltzer

Sparkling water is super hydrating, but the carbonation can make you feel super bloated, according to a research review. So, if you’re getting hiccups after dinner and a Waterloo, it might be the carbonated water.

7. Booze

Alcoholic beverages can lead to bloat, especially when you’re drinking a lot. Carbonated drinks like beer and soda mixers are the worst offenders. So, if you have the hiccups after a night out, it might be that vodka and soda.

Hiccups usually go away without any fancy intervention. But if it’s just too darn uncomfortable (or inconvenient), here’s what might help you out:

  1. Breathe into a paper bag. This might help increase the carbon dioxide levels in your blood. When these levels go up, hiccups often go away.
  2. Drink cold water quickly. Drinking water (or even gargling) can help calm down any irritation, especially if you ate something hot 🔥.
  3. Drink something warm. Hot water with lemon and honey might calm things down if you ate something super cold.
  4. Down a spoonful of sugar. Sugar might help interrupt any diaphragm spasms by irritating your throat.
  5. Find a lemon. Sucking on a lemon might help counter hiccup irritation.
  6. Practice slow breathing. Breathing slowly can help relax you and your diaphragm.
  7. Hold your breath. Holding your breath for 15 to 20 seconds helps carbon dioxide to build up in your lungs and relaxes your diaphragm.
  8. Try the Valsalva maneuver. It’s a breathing technique that involves bearing down while you hold your breath.
  9. Pull your knees to your chest and lean forwards. Sometimes all you need to cure hiccups is to change your posture.
  10. Get scared. The sudden stress of someone scaring you can sometimes knock out your hiccups.

There are some ways to actually prevent getting hiccups after eating (and the awkwardness of trying to hold a convo at the dinner table).

  • Eat your meal slowly.
  • Don’t talk while you chow down.
  • Try not to swallow air when you chew.
  • Avoid spicy or acidic foods.
  • Don’t drink carbonated drinks.
  • Eat only until you’re full.
  • Avoid alcohol, especially beer.
  • Drink water throughout your meal.

Hiccups that last a few minutes aren’t usually anything to worry about. Yes, they’re annoying, but generally nothing more.

However, if your hiccups are severe or last longer than 2 days, it’s prob time to talk with your doctor.

According to a 2012 research review, hiccups that last 48 hours to 2 months are considered persistent hiccups (or chronic hiccups) and could be the sign of an underlying condition, like stroke or heart disease.

A 2010 study found that persistent hiccups might be a symptom of damaged blood vessels or heart muscles.

A report also noted that a man with a high risk for heart disease went to the ER after having hiccups for 4 days. Doctors ended up finding out that he was having a heart attack with no other symptoms.

Hiccups are also found in people with nervous system diseases and chest injuries, as they can cause irritation of the vagus nerve.

The good news is that hiccups generally don’t last longer than a few minutes, and even up to 2 days isn’t a cause for concern.

Taking the time to eat slowly and avoiding acidic or spicy foods may help you prevent hiccups after a meal.

For the most part, hiccups can be both easily prevented and dealt with. But if you find yourself regularly getting hiccups or have hiccups lasting longer than 2 days, it’s time to talk with your doctor.