Hiccups can run the gamut from funny — especially when they happen at an inopportune times — to slightly annoying, uncomfortable, and even a bit painful. You might hiccup once and then move on with your day. Or you might be plagued by hiccups that last for hours. There are many possible causes for hiccups, and many things going on in the body when they occur.
"Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, which is [the] muscle below your lungs," Adrian Cotton, MD, chief of medical operations at Loma Linda University Health, tells Bustle. "When the muscle spasms, it tightens, and that constriction causes the vocal cords [to] close." Which results in the classic hiccup sound.
"Usually, hiccups last only a few minutes, but they can last for years," Dr. Cotton says. (Though this is rare.) "If hiccups last for more than 48 hours you should see your doctor," he says. "If hiccups persist, there are medications and surgeries [your doctor] can discuss with you."
There are also many tricks to make hiccups go away, that you can try at home. But the good news is, they usually stop all on their own. Read on for a few of the main causes of hiccups, as well as what's actually going on in your body when you have them, according to experts.