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Why Do I Get Hiccups When I Eat Rye Bread?

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Q

I get hiccups whenever I eat rye bread. Is this normal?

A

Lots of people have food triggers that can cause those annoying, involuntary chest spasms known as hiccups. For example, a sensitivity to certain foods, such as milk, wheat or spicy fare can produce gas in the stomach, which then presses against the diaphragm, causing hiccups. Carbonated beverages such as soda are another common source of stomach gas, which can lead to hiccups.

Eating foods that are either very hot or very cold can irritate the phrenic nerve, which is near the esophagus, and trigger a bout of hiccups as well.

Could it be that you’re eating too much, too fast? If you’re gulping down that rye bread, it’s likely you’re swallowing air while you eat…and that’s another common cause of hiccups. The simple fix is to eat more slowly and to be sure to thoroughly chew your food. Since hiccups can also be triggered by stress and excitement, it’s especially important to take your time and relax during meals rather than eating in a hurry.

It may be that your hiccups are not be caused by rye bread at all. There are medications, such as benzodiazepines, opiate painkillers and corticosteroids, that are known to cause hiccups. Drinking alcoholic beverages can be another trigger. And certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), pneumonia and kidney disease, are associated with frequent bouts of hiccups.

If your hiccups are persistent and painful, consult a gastroenterologist. But if it’s just an occasional annoyance, try one of these remedies: Bite on a lemon…or close your ears with your fingers while slowly drinking water through a straw. Or take a deep breath, hold it for as long as you can, then slowly breathe out. These tips may be oldies…but they’re goodies that really work!

Source: Anil Minocha, MD, professor of medicine and chief of gastroenterology, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, Shreveport, Louisiana, and the author of Dr. M’s Seven-X Plan for Digestive Health. Date: April 24, 2018
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