Drunk Hiccups

Why Do I Get Hiccups While Drunk and How Can I Get Rid of Them?

Although a cliché popularized by cartoons and sitcoms, many people are highly susceptible to catching cases of the hiccups while drunk. While causes for this phenomenon are still debated by some doctors, a basic understanding is available and accepted. Along with this, there are also many ways to rid yourself of these hiccups should you choose to do so.

The Anatomy of a Hiccup

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts several times in rapid succession. These sudden bursts of air into the lungs cause the epiglottis, a flap of tissue that is attached to the roof of the tongue, to close abruptly and create the traditional hiccupping sound.

How Are They Caused?

Normal hiccups are generally caused by a distention of the stomach. Getting the hiccups while drunk is not necessarily caused by the actual alcohol, but is most likely caused by carbonated mixers and the amount of air swallowed along with the drink. This is especially apparent when one takes into consideration the amount of people that get hiccups while drunk from beer.

Slurping drinks is another big cause of hiccups, and while it’s true that most people don’t normally slurp, muscle control is dulled while inebriated. You may inadvertently be taking in more air than you normally would while sober.

Sometimes hiccups are simply the result of an inadvertent reflex response to stimulation of the vagus or phrenic nerves. These nerves travel all along the body and when they are stimulated, a surprise case of hiccups can occur. Drinking alcohol has been known to have effects on nerves, so you may be accidentally fiddling with these every time you take a drink of alcohol.

Hiccups can also occur because of preexisting conditions that are worsened by the effects of alcohol. Epilepsy, skull fractures, bowel obstruction, and even myocardial infarction can all make the sufferer more prone to fits of hiccups, especially while drinking.

How Do You Get Rid of Hiccups?

Hiccup cures have been around for centuries, both medically approved and homegrown alike. With a normal case, simply drinking water very quickly after the first one or two hiccups may ease the nerves in your throat that could be triggering the unpleasant contractions. If in fact alcohol is the primary cause, then water would help in this regard as well, so that it can begin to replace the amount of alcohol in your blood supply.

Occasionally, however, a glass of refreshing water may not be within easy reach. In these cases, many people turn to popular home remedies such as taking a teaspoon of sugar or vinegar. This is supposed to shock your nerve endings into calming down, and supposedly has a similar effect to being scared. They generally do not work, however, and the hiccups simply go away on their own.


One of the problems with drunken hiccups is that the additional gas in your stomach may cause abdominal pain and even nausea. Depending on how much alcohol you have drunk, this can be incredibly problematic and very uncomfortable. In cases such as this, as unpleasant as it sounds, one of the best things to do to ease your ailment is to purge yourself in the bathroom.

Purging is fairly easy to do, particularly when drunk, and can not only ease any nausea you may be experiencing, but also does exceptionally well at ridding your stomach of extra air that may have been swallowed. To purge, position yourself over a toilet and gently place one or two fingers into your mouth and slowly go to the back of your throat. This will trigger a gag reflex and cause you to start heaving. At this point, excess air will generally be expelled from your body. You may also vomit, and although it’s messy and unpleasant at times, it will do much for your distended stomach.