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Hiccups When Drunk: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 8/24/2022

Drinking alcohol causes many things to happen in the body. For some people, one issue is hiccups. Alcohol interacts with many parts of the digestive system, specifically the stomach and intestines. When this occurs it will lead to spasms of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that pumps the lungs. If the diaphragm has spasms the result is hiccups.

While research is inconclusive on why alcohol causes these spasms, it’s clear that consuming alcohol increases the risk of developing hiccups. Below are the causes, harms, and effects of alcohol-related hiccups.

What are the Causes of Hiccups when Drunk?

Alcohol causes hiccups when drunk for a few reasons. First and foremost, carbonated beverages will irritate the stomach. When stomach irritation occurs due to carbonated beverages it distends the stomach. A distended stomach places pressure on the diaphragm, which increases the risk of hiccups.

Therefore, many researchers suggest that the method of alcohol intake determines the risk of hiccups occurring. Furthermore, consuming alcohol during social events can lead to lots of air being swallowed; this creates another risk of hiccups occurring.

Alcohol is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Depressants slow down the nervous system, which leads to slowed breathing and a reduction in other bodily functions. In some cases, alcohol’s interaction with the nervous system will result in hiccups when it’s consumed in large quantities.

Which Alcoholic Drinks Cause Hiccups?

All alcoholic beverages cause hiccups but carbonated alcoholic beverages are more likely to cause hiccups than non-carbonated beverages. For this reason, alcoholic drinks like beer have the highest risk of causing hiccups. This also applies to liquors that are mixed with carbonated beverages.

For example, vodka mixed with soda has a similar effect on the stomach and diaphragm as beer. Moreover, some carbonated wines can also result in hiccups for the same reason. Ultimately, it comes down to carbonation and the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Do Alcohol Misuse Conditions Cause Hiccups?

Alcohol misuse occurs when someone has alcohol abuse disorder (AUD), which is a dependency on alcohol. However, alcohol misuse can also be the result of binge drinking, which is the rapid consumption of alcohol to get drunk in a short period.

Abusing alcohol in these ways will cause stomach irritation that places pressure on the diaphragm and stomach. The result of this irritation is hiccups and other problems.

Consuming alcohol daily for many years also leads to other health problems. These health problems weaken the body and increase the risk of hiccups and other problems. Still, binge drinking is more likely to cause hiccups than other types of alcohol misuse.

How Dangerous are Hiccups when Drunk?

Hiccups when drunk are not that dangerous. While hiccups when drunk will cause some people to choke or vomit, the risk of death is minimal. However, hiccups when drunk are a sign that large quantities of alcohol were consumed.

Consuming large quantities of alcohol has health risks that lead to discomfort, loss of consciousness, death, and memory impairment. Therefore, hiccups are an early indicator of unhealthy drinking habits.

Are Hiccups a Sign of Alcohol Effects on the Digestive System?

Yes, hiccups are a sign of alcohol’s effects on the digestive system. While hiccups can also be caused by swallowing air, when many carbonated alcoholic beverages are consumed the latter is the more likely cause of hiccups.

Some other signs of alcohol’s effects on the digestive system include vomiting, stomach discomfort, indigestion, and nausea. People will also suffer from diarrhea and other stomach ailments when drinking alcoholic beverages.

How to Avoid Hiccups when You are Drinking

Hiccups occur when drinking alcohol because of swallowing air and the intake of carbonated beverages like beer and mixed drinks. To avoid hiccups when drinking, it’s best to avoid rapid laughter and carbonated alcoholic beverages like beer. Below are tips to avoid hiccups when drinking.

  • Consume alcohol slowly 
  • Drink water more often 
  • Choose non-carbonated alcohol 
  • Don’t drink alcohol 
  • Drink alcohol out of a glass rather than a can or bottle 

These tips will help you reduce the risk of hiccups occurring when drinking alcohol. However, sometimes hiccups are a normal function of the body and occur naturally.

1. Drink more slowly.

If you drink alcohol slowly, you will reduce the risk of developing hiccups when drinking. Drinking slowly lowers the risk of hiccups because it gives the stomach and digestive system more time to process alcohol. Consuming alcohol at a slower pace also prevents more air from being swallowed, which gives the stomach time to process air and other digestive gasses.

Drinking alcohol rapidly will cause hiccups for these reasons, so drinking slowly is a great way to prevent them. It’s also a smart idea to avoid drinking too much alcohol because it slows down the nervous system. Drinking slowly will help you consume less alcohol.

2. Drink Water More Often.

Having more water will also help with hiccups. Water consumption is essential for a few reasons. First and foremost, the body needs water to function properly and alcohol causes dehydration. When people have enough water in their body the risk of alcohol causing hiccups decreases.

To make the most out of this tip, we recommend drinking at least one glass of water for each alcoholic beverage consumed. Drinking one glass of water with each alcoholic drink will also reduce the severity of a hangover.

3. Drink non-carbonated alcohol.

Carbonated beverages lead to hiccups. This occurs because carbonation distends the stomach, which places pressure on the diaphragm. When there’s pressure on the diaphragm, spasms occur.

By avoiding alcoholic beverages that have carbonation, the risk of hiccups decreases. Therefore, avoid drinks mixed with seltzer and tonic. Furthermore, avoid drinks like beer to prevent hiccups.

4. Don’t drink alcohol.

The best way to prevent hiccups from occurring when drinking alcohol is to not drink alcohol. If you don’t consume alcohol, you don’t have to worry about alcohol leading to hiccups. That said, even limiting alcohol intake to less than 3 or 4 standard drinks can reduce the risk of hiccups occurring.

5. Drink alcohol out of a glass rather than a can or bottle.

Drinking alcohol out of a glass rather than a bottle will also increase the risk of hiccups. Consuming alcohol from a bottle changes the way alcohol enters the mouth, which leads to more air being swallowed. When drinking alcohol out of a glass or can, however, less air is swallowed.

Therefore, drinking alcohol out of a glass or can rather than a bottle will reduce the risk of hiccups occurring. If alcoholic beverages come in a bottle you can always pour them into a glass before consuming them.

What are the Other Problems that Alcohol can Cause?

Alcohol causes several problems. Abusing alcohol can lead to chronic conditions and even increase the risk of certain cancers. Because alcohol is toxic, it also damages the liver and many other organs in the body.

We list alcohol-related problems below.

These are only a few of the problems that alcohol has. Consuming alcohol will also cause other issues when abused.