Eating spicy or acidic foods, drinking carbonated or alcoholic drinks, eating too much in one sitting, or eating too fast can all contribute to hiccups after eating.

Everyone will experience hiccups at some point in their life. They can occur at any time, but many people find they experience them after eating.

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm quickly and involuntarily contracts. When this happens, experts believe the epiglottis — a flap of skin in the throat guarding the airway against debris — snaps shut, making the signature hiccup sound.

However, the exact cause is unclear, and it may be the glottis, which houses the vocal cords, rapidly closing that causes the sound instead.

In this article, we will explore the causes of hiccups after eating, why they occur, and how to stop and prevent them.

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According to an older review of studies from 2012, irritation of the esophagus — the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth — can be a cause of hiccups.

There are numerous potential factors that may lead to irritation of the esophagus.

Temperature changes in the esophagus

Anything which causes irritation or sudden changes to the temperature of the esophagus can potentially trigger hiccups. This may be due to the nerves that signal the diaphragm to contract becoming irritated or stimulated, creating the response that produces the hiccup sound.

The two major nerves residing near the esophagus are the vagus and phrenic nerves. Because of their location, eating and drinking can stimulate these nerves as a person chews and swallows.

Things in a person’s diet that may irritate the esophagus include:

  • spicy foods, such as chillis or curries
  • acidic foods, such as sodas or canned tomatoes
  • very cold drinks
  • coffee and caffeine
  • alcohol

Filling the stomach too quickly

Anything causing someone’s stomach to grow larger than normal — which doctors call distension — can be a trigger for hiccups. It may be that distension can cause hiccups due to the stomach pressing on the diaphragm.

Possible causes of a distended stomach that can lead to hiccups include:

  • eating too much in one sitting
  • eating too fast
  • having gas in the stomach due to sodas or carbonated drinks
  • swallowing air — someone can do this while chewing gum, eating, speaking, drinking, smoking, or vaping
  • consuming a large amount of alcohol quickly, especially beer or sparkling wine

Non-food irritants

Besides nerves, other environmental factors can stimulate or irritate the nerves controlling the diaphragm, causing hiccups as someone eats.

Environmental stressors that may trigger hiccups include:

  • nervousness or anxiety
  • emotional distress or trauma
  • a sharp intake of breath in very cold air
  • excitement or anticipation, such as about an important event or test

Multiple triggers

Some triggers cause hiccups to occur in multiple ways at once.


Drinking too much too quickly can cause stomach distension, particularly if drinking beer or sparkling wine, or cocktails mixed with sodas, due to the carbonation.

Dry food, such as bread

Dry food may irritate or tickle the lining of the throat and esophagus. Dry food is also more difficult to chew and swallow, so if someone swallows larger bites than usual, this can lead to distension.

Additionally, difficulty chewing often causes people to swallow more air as they eat, which may also cause a distended stomach.

When hiccups occur, the diaphragm spasms. This spasm causes the intercostal muscles — the muscles between the ribs — and the diaphragm itself to contract quickly, which suddenly pulls air into the lungs.

Almost immediately afterward, the epiglottis or glottis suddenly closes, creating the telltale hiccup sound.

The diaphragm is a large flat muscle that separates the wall of the abdominal muscles and the lungs. Alongside the intercostal muscles, the diaphragm is crucial to the mechanics of emptying and filling the lungs.

Anything that stimulates the diaphragm to contract can cause hiccups. A person cannot consciously control this motion. It is completely involuntary.

Learn more about hiccups.

Hiccups tend to go away without treatment within a few minutes. If hiccups last longer than 48 hours, an individual should speak with a healthcare professional.

There are certain home remedies that can help stop hiccups. The following tips may not work for everyone, but they are generally safe to try:

  • breathing slowly into a paper bag without placing it over the head
  • holding the breath for a short time
  • drinking or sipping cold water
  • gargling with ice water
  • biting a lemon or tasting vinegar
  • while sitting, hugging the knees to the chest while leaning forward
  • swallowing a little bit of granulated sugar

Read more about getting rid of hiccups.

To help prevent hiccups, an individual can try to avoid triggers that can distend the stomach or irritate the esophagus. Things to avoid include:

  • sodas and other carbonated drinks
  • chewing gum
  • smoking
  • eating spicy foods
  • eating too quickly
  • speaking with a mouth full of food, as this can lead to swallowing air
  • eating or drinking something very cold immediately following something hot

The following are some questions people frequently ask about hiccups.

Are frequent hiccups a symptom of anything?

Historically, hiccups have sometimes turned out to be an unusual symptom of a heart condition.

A 2018 study details a 74-year-old male with a very high risk for heart disease who presented at the emergency room after having hiccups consistently for 4 days.

A routine electrocardiogram (EKG) revealed the patient was having a heart attack, despite displaying none of the typical signs or symptoms.

Are hiccups a symptom of GERD?

Yes, they can be. Experts associate hiccups with a number of conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Hiccups are common and have many causes, including certain triggering foods, drinks, and habits, such as smoking or chewing gum.

There are several home remedies people can safely try to get rid of hiccups, such as holding one’s breath for a short time, sipping or drinking ice-cold water, or biting a lemon.

Hiccups tend to resolve on their own within a few minutes. Anyone experiencing persistent hiccups, or hiccups lasting longer than 48 hours, should speak with a healthcare professional who may recommend other methods or medications to treat hiccups.