Are Hiccups A Sign Of Alcoholism?

Robert Gerchalk

Robert is our health care professional reviewer of this website. He worked for many years in mental health and substance abuse facilities in Florida, as well as in home health (medical and psychiatric), and took care of people with medical and addictions problems at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He has a nursing and business/technology degrees from The Johns Hopkins University.

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Understanding the Relationship Between Hiccups and Alcoholism

Understanding the signs of alcoholism is essential to helping yourself and your loved ones live happy, healthy lives. But the signs can sometimes be tricky to understand, especially some of the earliest ones, like hiccups. That’s right. Hiccups are a possible indicator of alcoholism. 

Is It Normal to Get Hiccups When Drinking?

Yes, it’s very normal to get hiccups when drinking. Just because you have hiccups doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong. In most situations, hiccups are innocuous and resolve spontaneously, but persistent bouts might signal an underlying medical issue that could benefit from medical treatment.

Why Do They Happen?

The distinctive sound of a hiccup is the result of the diaphragm contracting uncontrollably and the vocal cords quickly closing. Alcohol use may lead to hiccups. However, the exact process is still poorly understood. Alcohol’s effects on the stomach may raise pressure on the diaphragm and trigger the hiccup reflex. And because alcohol depresses the tone of the muscles that control breathing and swallowing, that may also bring on the hiccups. 

It’s also possible for alcohol to cause hiccups because alcohol irritates the digestive tract, which includes the esophagus. This causes the stomach to produce more acid, which can then cause heartburn and hiccups. While occasional hiccups are common, chronic or severe episodes may demand medical attention, particularly if connected to a heavy alcohol intake or underlying health conditions.

How to Stop Hiccups

In most cases, hiccups go away after a few minutes. However, there are a few things you can try  to get rid of them.

  • Swallowing a tablespoon of sugar to help stimulate the area at the back of your throat
  • Gargling cold water
  • Taking a moment to pause your breathing by holding your breath for a few seconds.
  • Performing the Valsalva technique: seal your lips over your nose and attempt to exhale via your nose alone.
  • Massaging the back of your neck
  • Inhaling via a paper bag
  • Chewing on a lemon wedge

When to Contact a Doctor

If your hiccups don’t go away after 48 hours, it’s best to visit your doctor for a checkup. Hiccups that don’t go away for an extended time indicate a possible underlying medical problem. 

How to Prevent Hiccups in the Future

Avoiding carbonated drinks and practicing mindful breathing are just some of the strategies you can use to reduce the frequency and severity of hiccups. Breathing regularly and gently, drinking water slowly, and refraining from eating too much are also helpful. Staying sober is especially important since alcohol aggravates nerves involved in the hiccup reflex, making them more likely to occur. 

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, often known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic and, in many cases, progressively worsening illness characterized by excessive and unhealthy alcohol intake. Individuals with alcoholism may struggle to restrain their drinking, have cravings, and continue to drink despite a wide range of negative outcomes.

Alcoholism can shorten your life by up to 26 years and impacts millions of Americans. The same data suggests that one in every six adults in America binge drinks. Out of those people, 25% of them binge drink weekly. 

Alcoholism may develop into physical and psychological dependency, compromising personal relationships, jobs, and one’s overall general well-being. Genetic, environmental, and social variables all play a role in the development of alcoholism. Treatment and intervention for alcoholism should begin as soon as possible and may include several different approaches, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups.

Alcohol’s short-term health effects include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Dehydration
  • Coordination issues
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mood changes

The long-term health effects of prolonged alcohol use are:

  • Liver damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Weakened immune system
  • Neurological impairment
  • Increased cancer risk
  • Social and occupational consequences
  • Psychological disorders
  • Addiction
  • Gastrointestinal problems

How to Tell If You Have a Drinking Problem

It takes introspection and a sober evaluation of one’s drinking habits to determine whether one has a problem with alcohol. Signs of possible concern include an increasing tolerance (requiring more alcohol to obtain the same effects), recurring cravings, and spending substantial time amounts of time drinking or recuperating from its effects. 

Other warning signs include experiencing problems with everyday tasks and relationships as a result of drinking, as well as continuing to drink despite these interferences. Withdrawal symptoms after abstaining from alcohol are physical indicators of a problem. The worry of others around you is another important clue. Seeking expert help, such as from a healthcare practitioner or counselor, can help you assess whether you need treatment.

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

The multifaceted nature of alcoholism makes integrative therapy essential to the treatment process. Fortunately, clients have access to a variety of integrated regimens via a variety of treatment options.

Outpatient

People can get the help they need without disrupting their lives too much by opting for outpatient treatment. Those who have a stable home life and the maturity to handle their responsibilities while taking a proactive approach to avoid drinking greatly benefit from this strategy. Counseling, group therapy, and educational sessions are common components of outpatient programs for addressing and treating addiction.

Inpatient

When individuals receive inpatient or residential therapy, they gain the ability to devote their whole attention to the healing process in a safe and secure setting. It’s especially helpful for those who have a serious problem with alcohol or who also have mental health difficulties. Inpatient treatment centers provide a wide variety of treatments, from medical detox to counseling and education.

Dual Diagnosis

Alcoholism therapy that takes a dual-diagnosis approach takes into account the individual’s mental health as well as their alcohol use disorder. Clients receive individualized therapies, including psychotherapy, medication management, and support groups, to address both the addiction to alcohol and the underlying psychological disorders. Addiction and mental health are inextricably linked, and a holistic approach takes this into account to improve the odds of a full and permanent recovery by focusing on the origins of the problem and equipping individuals with the resources they need.

Aftercare

An integral part of the healing process, aftercare helps patients readjust to life outside of treatment. Aftercare services may include continued counseling, support groups, and relapse prevention plans. These programs strive to help people who have completed treatment use the knowledge and tools they gained to deal with any difficulties that arise in their continued sobriety. Long-term effectiveness in treating alcoholism relies heavily on aftercare programs that provide patients with ongoing support and resources.

Most Popular Therapies for Alcoholism

Using evidence-based approaches is vital to treating alcoholism. When searching for a treatment center, it can be helpful to find one that offers a combination of the services discussed below. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Because of its efficacy in treating alcoholism’s underlying thinking patterns and behaviors, many treatment centers use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat alcoholism. Clients benefit from this form of therapy for alcohol abuse because it teaches them to recognize and question irrational thoughts about drinking and replace them with more constructive ones. 

By treating the psychological components of alcoholism, CBT aims to improve self-destructive behaviors, minimize cravings, and avoid relapse. CBT’s systematic and outcome-focused approach makes it an effective method for fostering long-term sobriety and enhancing emotional health by giving people the tools they need to take charge of their recovery.

Motivational Enhancement Treatment

Providers of alcohol treatment often use a technique called motivational enhancement therapy (MET) to inspire patients to cut down or quit drinking. Resolving ambivalence and fostering a genuine drive for sobriety is at the heart of MET’s client-centered approach. It’s a kind of therapy that encourages clients to look at their resistance to change, make concrete plans for the future, and deepen their resolve to become well. MET also encourages a more active and enthusiastic approach to recovering from alcoholism by putting a lot of emphasis on the person’s ability to start and continue positive changes in their behavior.

Contingency Management

Some treatment clinics provide contingency management for alcoholism using a reward-based approach to promote good behavior and sobriety. This strategy employs the use of monetary or non-monetary incentives, like gift certificates or special privileges, to motivate clients to stick with their treatment plans and stay sober. Using immediate and concrete rewards, contingency management encourages positive behavior change, treatment participation, and long-term sobriety. This method is effective in helping people kick their alcohol habit and start living better lives by providing a framework that is both realistic and inspiring.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another form of therapy that addresses both the cognitive and emotional aspects of addiction. It combines many therapies that aim to improve emotional regulation, social development, and stress management. Some of these therapies follow mindfulness practices, such as mindful breathing, mindful observations, and mindful grounding. All of the exercises help clients focus on their breathing to enhance connecting with the present moment through sensory experiences. DBT helps people overcome alcoholism by teaching them how to better handle the stresses and emotions that may otherwise encourage them to drink.

Family Therapy

Alcoholism treatment centers often include family therapy as a way to address the intergenerational effects of the disease. The alcoholic and their loved ones are active participants in this therapy strategy, which attempts to improve communication and mutual understanding between clients and their loved ones. Family therapy informs loved ones about alcoholism’s intricacies, aids in the detection of enabling actions, and fosters a healing atmosphere. Involving family and friends in recovery helps build a solid foundation of support and tackles any underlying issues that may be contributing to alcohol abuse. This teamwork improves the efficiency of therapy and offers a more all-encompassing method of recovery.

One of the most important parts of recovery is building a strong network of people who care about your sobriety. If you need help connecting with treatment providers and building a support network, Alcohol Awareness is here to help. We spend every day helping people find the help and care they need to create a lifestyle that doesn’t center around alcohol use. Contact us today to learn how you can start your own path to sobriety. 

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