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What Causes Aggressive Hiccups When Consuming Spicy Food?

If you love spicy food, then you’ve probably experienced hiccups caused by those spicy foods. But what causes this, and why are some people more affected than others?

The short answer, we do not know. But there are some theories we can dive into below.

What Causes Hiccups In General?

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm — the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen and plays an essential role in breathing. A hiccup is a spasm of your diaphragm and vocal cords. Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the characteristic “hic” sound. Hiccups can start without any specific reason and disappear in a few minutes.

Why Do Spicy Foods Give Me Hiccups?

Spicy Asian food

Scientists are still speculating about the exact reason for hiccups in general, which remains unclear, but there are some theories out there.

Chile peppers contain capsaicin which can activate neurons in the diaphragm, causing the diaphragm to contract to produce hiccups. Spicy food can also cause us to belch, which causes stomach enlargement and irritation of the diaphragm, resulting in hiccups.

The other feasible cause could be that spicy food increases acid production in the stomach, irritating the nerves involved in the hiccup reflex.

Why Do Some People Get Them While Others Aren’t Bothered?

Why do some of us start to hiccup at the mere sight of chili, while others don’t seem to be bothered by spicy foods at all? Why do spicy foods give ME hiccups?

It is possible to build up a tolerance to chili peppers through repeated exposure to capsaicin. Check out my very in-depth article here on just that subject.

The key is our TRPV1 receptors, allowing us to get used to eating spicier food. Differences in the number and distribution of this capsaicin receptor can contribute to our response to spicy food. Tolerance to spicy can occur through repeated exposure to capsaicin.

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