10 Causes of Morning Hiccups and Their Solutions

Stephanie-Abi-Zeid.
  • This article has been written, researched, and medically reviewed by Stephanie Abi Zeid (Embryologist, Andrologist, B.S, MSc) for maximum factual accuracy and to ensure unique content.

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm that are accompanied by the closing of the vocal cords that results in the ‘hic’ sound.

Everyone gets hiccups from time to time, but if you are getting them each morning, you might be worried.

So what causes morning hiccups?

Morning hiccups are most commonly caused by emotional stress, sleeping with a full stomach, swallowing air whilst eating, changes in body temperature, acid reflux, or being pregnant – in some cases, recent surgery or more serious medical conditions may be the cause.

If you are experiencing morning hiccups regularly then you should contact your doctor to find out the root cause.

In the rest of this article, I have provided you with a more detailed explanation of the 10 most common causes of morning hiccups and how to fix the issue.

Related: find out if babies can sleep with hiccups here.

10 Causes of Morning Hiccups and Their Solutions

Below are 10 reasons why you might be experiencing hiccups specifically in the morning and what you can do to fix the issue:

1: Emotional Stress

In various cases, short-term and long-term hiccups have been connected to anxiety and tension.

In some cases, nightmares can cause anxiety and tension [1]. 

I generally get similar feelings, even after I wake up in the morning, which causes me to experience a bout of hiccups.

Solution:

To relieve stress and tension, use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Hiccups can be relieved by a gentle massage of the diaphragm along the borders of the ribcage. 

You can also try acupuncture or hypnosis.

Try these 12 relaxation strategies to help you sleep here.

2: Having a Full Stomach

Eating too much (especially fatty or spicy foods), or drinking too many carbonated beverages or alcoholic drinks, can produce stomach distention and pressure on the diaphragm. 

If the duodenal channel is ineffective, the contents of the stomach may linger there during sleep, resulting in morning hiccups.

If I consume chili-spiced foods, such as hot wings or chili peppers, before bedtime, I get sometimes get hiccups when I wake up. 

One explanation for this is that capsaicin (a chemical molecule found in spicy foods) irritates the nerves in your digestive tract, causing your diaphragm to contract erratically, which in turn causes hiccups [2]. 

Solution:

Changing your eating and drinking habits could assist in stimulating your vagus or phrenic nerves.

Avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime, so that you feel better in the morning. 

Drink less alcohol, and avoid carbonated drinks and spicy foods when possible. 

Because capsaicin is an alkaline oil, its intensity can be reduced by using culinary acids. 

Acidic additives, such as lime juice, vinegar, wine, tomatoes, and even pineapple, can aid to balance a spicy oil’s pH levels, and thus alleviate hiccups. 

You could also take a bite out of a lemon. 

Some individuals add salt to their lemon slices.

Here are 6 doctor-recommended ways to sleep better with stomach pain.

3: Swallowing Air

Hiccups can be triggered by anything that causes your stomach to expand more than usual.

Stomach distension can be caused by swallowing air (aerophagia) while chewing, or talking while eating.

Drinking carbonated beverages or consuming a large amount of alcohol – particularly beer – in a short period of time, can add to distension, too. 

Smoking, chewing gum, or using a straw to drink, could also lead a person to swallow air, making them more susceptible to hiccups. 

Solution:

Your diaphragm can sometimes be made to relax by just changing your breathing or posture.

Some home cures or methods for getting rid of hiccups include:

  • Breathing slowly and deliberately into a paper bag.
  • Taking few deep breaths.
  • Holding your breath for a few seconds before exhaling. Repeat three or four times every 20 minutes.
  • Leaning forward to gently compress the chest, which puts pressure on your diaphragm.
  • Slowly sipping a glass of warm water, without stopping to breathe.

These remedies are based on the personal experiences of individuals.

They haven’t been studied in research trials, so it’s unclear how effective they are.

The concept behind holding your breath is that releasing your breath quickly would reset the stretch receptors in your diaphragm, putting a stop to the hiccups.

Here are 10 ways to sleep better with carpal tunnel syndrome.

4: Sudden Change in Body Temperature

Hiccups can be triggered by sudden changes in either external or internal (body) temperatures.

When you eat or drink something extremely hot or cold, it activates the oesophageal nerves – the phrenic nerve and the vagus nerve – causing irritation and hiccups.

Similarly, when a person is in an air-conditioned space and then abruptly moves outside into the sun, the fast shift in temperature might cause diaphragm contractions, resulting in hiccups. 

This is especially true after a hot meal. 

Solution:

Temperature swings should be avoided at all costs. 

Although sudden temperature changes may have provoked your hiccups in the first place, a glass of cold water might help relax the nerves, and prevent hiccups.

Try these 10 ways to sleep better using lavender here.

5: Changes in Blood Chemistry

In rare circumstances, hiccups might be caused by an underlying condition. 

Any underlying disease or condition, such as symptoms of infection, diabetes, or kidney disease, can be detected using blood tests.

Changes in blood chemistry, such as those caused by alcohol, excessive blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance, or a deficiency of calcium or potassium in the blood, are all examples of situations that might produce persistent morning hiccups.

Solution:

Blood tests or X-rays are usually required if the hiccups are a symptom of a medical illness. 

The underlying health condition producing the hiccups should be treated first.

Reduce your intake of alcohol and sweets, and eat more calcium and potassium-rich foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid hiccups.

Try these 7 strategies for getting to sleep at night after a daytime nap.

6: Gastrointestinal Reflux

Hiccups that occur frequently upon waking could be caused by gastrointestinal reflux.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the stomach’s acidified liquid content backs up into the esophagus [3]. 

When stomach acid comes into contact with the esophageal lining and irritates the phrenic and vagus nerves, it causes discomfort, and possibly spasms.

Solution:

Stomach issues like acid reflux or a bloated stomach should be treated with anti-acid pharmaceuticals, such as omeprazole or ranitidine, or medicines that help the stomach empty faster, like metoclopramide [4].

Phrenic nerve surgery is only suggested in those who have been suffering from hiccups for a long time, and have not responded to previous therapies.

To alleviate GERD symptoms, experts recommend following a Mediterranean diet, or a similar eating plan, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains [5].

Elevating your head using pillows or an adjustable bed can reduce acid reflux.

Click here to see the best adjustable beds for acid reflux now.

7: Certain Medical Conditions

Hiccups might also be exacerbated by certain medical problems, which include:

  • Nervous system conditions like meningitis, seizures, a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or arteriovenous malformation.
  • Digestive diseases such as peptic ulcers, gallbladder issues, or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Metabolic conditions like hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and diabetes.
  • Pulmonary diseases like pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Esophageal conditions, such as esophagitis or esophageal cancer.
  • Cardiovascular conditions like pericarditis, or heart attack.
  • Liver conditions such as liver cancer, hepatitis, or liver abscess.
  • Kidney problems like uremia, kidney failure, or kidney cancer.
  • Pancreatic problems like pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Solution:

For persistent hiccups, a referral to a specialist is frequently recommended, either to determine the reason or to provide further treatment options.

Hiccups can be treated by a variety of professionals, depending on the underlying cause.

For example, if the cause is a stroke, or another neurological disease, a neurologist – a specialist in the nervous system and brain – may be consulted. 

You should see a gastroenterologist – a specialist who specializes in digestive illnesses – if acid reflux is the cause.

If you have lung disease or pneumonia, you should consult a pulmonologist – a doctor who specializes in respiratory problems.

Click here for x ways to sleep better after gallbladder surgery.

8: Some Surgeries

Hiccups can also occur after receiving general anesthesia, after surgeries involving abdominal or chest organs, or while recovering from a procedure. 

They are likely to be caused by a minor nerve injury induced by the tube used to help the patient breathe during the operation.

Solution:

Hiccups caused by anesthetics have been reported to be cured by intravenous injection of a medicine called metoclopramide.

They can sometimes be treated with ketamine or ephedrine, too. 

Furthermore, medicines such as chlorpromazine, haloperidol, and baclofen can relax the diaphragm muscle, or its nerve supply, resulting in the hiccups being stopped [6].

If your stomach becomes too full, or you throw up a lot after surgery, nasogastric intubation, which involves inserting a tube into the nose, may be a therapy option.  

Here are 7 ways to sleep better after rhinoplasty surgery.

9: Certain Medications

Hiccups can also be a side effect of some drugs, such as:

  • Chemotherapy medications.
  • Antidepressant drugs.
  • Anxiety medications.
  • Steroids.
  • Certain epilepsy medications.
  • Nicotine gum [7].

Solution:

Some of the treatment options available include dosage adjustments to existing drugs, the use of antispasmodic medications to relieve diaphragm spasms, and changing to a different nicotine replacement therapy. 

On the other hand, sedatives like midazolam can assist people with terminal illnesses, regulating their hiccups, and easing the tension they create.

Try these 6 ways to sleep better when taking Zoloft here.

10: Pregnancy

Hiccups can also be an annoying side effect of pregnancy.

As a currently pregnant woman, I wake up with hiccups almost every day. 

The most common causes are nausea and indigestion. 

Hiccupping can occur when we are not digesting our meals properly, when we have recently vomited, or when we are going to vomit.

You can also hiccup as a result of emotional tension.

Even if your hiccups are caused by indigestion, being too excited may aggravate them.

Solution:

Taking the time to slow down and relax may help you get rid of those irritating hiccups. 

Deep breathing, slowing your thoughts, and relaxing your muscles are all good things to try.

Lying down, drinking water, and dissolving sugar in the mouth might also help relax the diaphragm if you have severe indigestion.

Check the safety of sleeping in a maternity support belt here.


Conclusion: Address the Underlying Cause of Hiccups

A hiccup is a spasm that affects both your diaphragm and your vocal cords.

Hiccups should go away on their own after a few minutes, or up to a few hours, in most cases.

There are a variety of home remedies for hiccups that have been passed down through the generations. 

They may work for some people, but there isn’t much evidence to back up the claims.

However, when hiccups last longer than 48 hours, they may indicate a more serious health problem that needs to be addressed.

Your doctor may do a variety of tests to aid with the diagnosis, and drugs may be prescribed accordingly, to alleviate hiccupping.

References

[1]. Pietrangelo, Ann. “Nightmares.” Healthline, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/nightmares.

[2]. Supriya. “Why Does Spicy Food Give You Hiccups?” Spicy trio, 2021, https://spicytrio.com/why-does-spicy-food-give-you-hiccups/.

[3]. Marks, Jay. “GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn).” Medicinenet, 2021, https://www.medicinenet.com/gastroesophageal_reflux_disease_gerd/article.htm.

[4]. Knott, Laurence. “Hiccups.” PatientInfo, 2017, https://patient.info/digestive-health/hiccups-hiccoughs.

[5]. Johnson, Jon. “Foods to eat, and foods to avoid with GERD and acid reflux.” Medical News Today, 2021, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314690#foods-to-avoid.

[6]. Cunha, John. “How Are Hiccups Caused?” Medicine Net, 2021, https://www.medicinenet.com/hiccups/article.htm.

[7]. Thompson Jr, Dennis. “What You Need to Know About Nicotine Gum.” Everyday Health, 2011, https://www.everydayhealth.com/smoking-cessation/nicotine-replacement-therapy.aspx.