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Hiccups When Drunk: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/08/2022

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 can 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 conclusive 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 can irritate the stomach. When stomach irritation occurs due to carbonated beverages it can distend 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.

Which Alcoholic Drinks Cause Hiccups?

All alcoholic beverages can 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.

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 can cause stomach irritation that places pressure on the diaphragm and stomach. The result of this irritation is hiccups.

How Dangerous are Hiccups when Drunk?

Hiccups when drunk are not that dangerous. While hiccups when drunk can cause people to choke or vomit, the risk of death is minimal. However, hiccups when drunk can be a sign that large quantities of alcohol were consumed. Consuming large quantities of alcohol has health risks that can lead to discomfort, loss of consciousness, death, and memory impairment. 

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 if many carbonated alcoholic beverages were consumed the latter is the most likely cause of hiccups. Some other signs of alcohol’s effects on the digestive system include vomiting, stomach discomfort, indigestion, and nausea. People can also suffer from diarrhea and other stomach ailments.

How to Avoid Hiccups when You are Drinking

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

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

1. Drink more slowly.

Drinking more slowly can reduce the risk of developing hiccups when drinking. Drinking slowly lowers the risk 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 rapidly can cause hiccups for these reasons, so drinking slowly is a great way to prevent them.

2. Drink water more often.

Drinking water more often can 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.

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 can 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, however, less air is swallowed. Therefore, drinking alcohol out of a glass rather than a bottle can reduce the risk of hiccups occurring and prevent them from happening.

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. Some of the other problems that alcohol can cause are listed below.

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease 
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • Increased risk of stroke 
  • Fatty liver disease 
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney problems 
  • Alcohol dependency 
  • Alcohol withdrawal 
  • Brain damage 
  • Memory impairment
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Death

These are only a few of the problems that alcohol has. Consuming alcohol can also cause other issues, like flushing, depending on the person.