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Hiccups When Drunk: Should You Be Worried?

In this article, we'll explore the science behind hiccups, the effects of alcohol on the body, and whether or not you should be concerned if you experience hiccups while drunk.

April 16, 2023

Key Takeaways About Hiccups When Drinking

  • Hiccups are due to contractions of the diaphragm.
  • Alcohol can also irritate the esophagus, which can cause hiccups.
  • Drinking large amounts of liquid can swell the stomach, which can impact the diaphragm.
  • Hiccups usually go away independently, but simple home remedies such as holding your breath can also help.

Hiccups are a common occurrence that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. They are usually harmless and go away on their own, but what happens when hiccups strike when you're drunk? Should you be worried?

What Hiccups Are & Why They Happen

First, let's take a look at what hiccups are and why they happen. Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle, which is responsible for controlling your breathing.


When the diaphragm contracts suddenly, it causes a rush of air into the lungs, which then closes the vocal cords, producing the "hic" sound. Hiccups can be caused by a variety of things, including eating too quickly, drinking carbonated beverages, and even stress.

Now, let's talk about alcohol and its effects on the body. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, which controls our breathing, heart rate, and other vital functions.

When we drink alcohol, it can affect the way our diaphragm functions, making it more likely that we will experience hiccups. Additionally, alcohol can irritate the lining of the esophagus and stomach, causing spasms that can trigger hiccups.

Why Hiccups Happen When You're Drinking

Alcohol can affect the way our body regulates many involuntary functions, including hiccups. When we drink alcohol, it increases the production of stomach acid and relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, which separates the stomach from the esophagus. This relaxation can cause stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, leading to irritation and spasms that trigger hiccups.

Moreover, drinking alcohol can also impact our breathing patterns. It can slow down our respiratory rate and make us take deeper breaths than usual. These changes in breathing patterns may lead to an increased risk of hiccupping as well.

In addition to these physiological factors, there are other reasons why you might experience hiccups when drunk. Drinking too quickly or consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause bloating and distension of the stomach, which can trigger hiccups.

Overall, while experiencing hiccups when drunk is typically nothing to worry about, it's always best to drink in moderation and stay hydrated to avoid any potential complications.

Causes Of Hiccups When Drunk

While alcohol can be a trigger for hiccups, there are other factors that can contribute to their occurrence when drinking. One of the main causes is the speed at which a person drinks. When we drink quickly, we tend to swallow more air, which can cause the diaphragm muscle to spasm and lead to hiccups.

Another possible cause of hiccups when drunk is the type of alcohol being consumed. Certain types of alcohol, such as carbonated or sugary drinks, may increase the likelihood of experiencing hiccups.

In addition, mixing different types of alcohol or drinking on an empty stomach can also increase the chances of getting hiccups while drunk. This is because these behaviors can irritate the lining of the stomach and esophagus and affect our breathing patterns.

It's important to note that while hiccups are usually harmless, they can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying condition. If you experience persistent or severe hiccups when drinking or otherwise, it's best to seek medical attention to rule out any potential health issues.

How to Stop Hiccups After Drinking Alcohol

If you're experiencing hiccups when drunk and want to get rid of them, there are a few things you can try. One of the most effective methods is to hold your breath for a few seconds. This can help to reset the diaphragm muscle and stop the hiccups.

Another method that may work is to drink a glass of water quickly while plugging your nose. This can help to stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls the muscles involved in hiccupping.

You can also try breathing into a paper bag or taking slow, deep breaths to regulate your breathing patterns and potentially stop the hiccups.

In some cases, over-the-counter medications like antacids or muscle relaxants may be helpful in stopping hiccups. However, it's important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any medication, especially if you're already under medical treatment.

Overall, if you're experiencing hiccups when drunk, it's best not to panic and try some of these simple remedies before seeking medical attention.

How Long Do Drunk Hiccups Last?

Hiccups when drunk can be a nuisance, but they usually go away on their own within a few minutes to an hour. However, in some cases, they can last for hours or even days.

Persistent hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are known as "intractable hiccups" and may require medical attention. In rare cases, intractable hiccups can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as nerve damage or gastrointestinal issues.

If you experience persistent hiccups when drunk or otherwise, it's best to seek medical attention to rule out any potential health issues. Your healthcare provider may recommend treatments such as medication, acupuncture, or nerve blocks to help relieve the symptoms of intractable hiccups.

In general, though, most cases of hiccups when drunk are harmless and will go away on their own with time. If you find yourself hiccupping after a night of drinking, try some of the remedies mentioned earlier and give them time to work before seeking medical attention.

Should You Be Worried?

So, should you be worried if you experience hiccups while drunk? In most cases, the answer is no. Hiccups are usually harmless and will go away on their own within a few minutes to a few hours.

However, if your hiccups persist for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain, difficulty breathing, or vomiting, you should seek medical attention immediately.

These symptoms could be signs of a more serious condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or even a heart attack.

Preventing Hiccups While Drinking Alcohol

While hiccups are usually harmless, they can be annoying and disruptive. Here are some tips to help prevent hiccups while drinking alcohol:

  • Drink slowly: Sipping your drink slowly can help prevent hiccups from occurring. It gives your body time to process the alcohol and reduces the chances of irritating your diaphragm.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks: Carbonated drinks like beer and champagne can increase the likelihood of hiccups because they cause gas to build up in your stomach. Opt for non-carbonated beverages instead.
  • Eat before you drink: Eating a meal before you start drinking can help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. This can reduce the effects of alcohol on your diaphragm and decrease the chances of hiccups.
  • Relax: Stress and anxiety can contribute to hiccups, so try to relax before you start drinking. Take deep breaths, meditate, or do some light stretching to calm your nerves.

By following these tips, you may be able to prevent hiccups from happening while drinking alcohol. However, if you do experience hiccups, remember that they are usually harmless and will go away on their own within a short amount of time.


Can drinking water help stop hiccups?

Yes, drinking water can help stop hiccups by stimulating the vagus nerve, which helps control the diaphragm muscle. However, it may not be effective for everyone.

Are hiccups when drinking alcohol dangerous?

While hiccups when drinking alcohol are usually harmless, there are rare cases where they can be dangerous. If hiccups persist for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Additionally, in severe cases, hiccups can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing, which could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

It's important to note that if you experience persistent or severe hiccups when drinking or otherwise, it's best to seek medical attention to rule out any potential health issues. A healthcare professional can help determine the underlying cause of your hiccups and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.

In summary, while most cases of hiccups when drinking alcohol are harmless and will go away on their own within a short amount of time, it's important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen.

Why do some people get hiccups more often than others when they drink?

Some people may be more prone to getting hiccups when they drink due to differences in their body chemistry or anatomy. Additionally, drinking habits and behaviors may also play a role.

Are there any home remedies that can help stop hiccups?

Yes, there are several home remedies that may help stop hiccups, such as holding your breath, breathing into a paper bag, or gargling with ice water.

Is it safe to drive if you have the hiccups while drunk?

No, it is not safe to drive if you have the hiccups while drunk. Hiccups can be distracting and cause involuntary movements that could impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Should I avoid drinking alcohol altogether if I get hiccups frequently?

If you experience frequent or prolonged episodes of hiccups when you drink alcohol, it may be best to avoid or limit your alcohol intake in the future. Additionally, talking to your healthcare provider may help determine if there is an underlying medical condition contributing to your symptoms.


Hiccups when drunk are a common occurrence that can be caused by alcohol's effects on the body. While they are usually harmless and go away on their own, persistent hiccups can be a sign of a more serious condition.

If you experience hiccups that last for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention right away. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and wait for the hiccups to pass – they'll be gone before you know it.

Dr. Elizabeth Drew
Medical Director

Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth Drew graduated from Hahnemann University School of Medicine and completed her family practice residency at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown PA. In 2005, she opened her family medicine office in Doylestown, and in 2008 she treated her first patient for opiate addiction.

Since then Dr. Drew has attained her board certification in Addiction Medicine, treated more than a thousand patients for addiction to opiates and alcohol, participated in programs to educate the community, traveled to Washington DC to educate our legislators, and served as Medical Director at some of the best addiction treatment programs in Pennsylvania.

She understands that addiction is a chronic disease that no one would choose to have, and her treatment philosophy is based on respect, compassion, and empowerment. She is excited to be the Medical Director of MPower Wellness and work to provide superior addiction treatment in Chester County.

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