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I have heard that hiccuping is very bad for you. I've even heard several times that each time you hiccup it shortens your lifespan by one day.

Does an average bout of hiccuping have any adverse effect on your health?

  • Not sure how to tag this one - I tried health. Please help to retag. Thanks! – going Apr 18 '11 at 23:03
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    “each time you hiccup it shortens your lifespan by one day.” – if that were true I’d already be dead. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 19 '11 at 11:24
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There are certain times when this may be true.

However, those situations are limited to instances where hiccups present as a symptom of an underlying pathology.

These instances are limited to very specific cases where the hiccups are caused by either cancer, neurological disorder, by faulted pacemaker leads which are causing the hiccup by stimulating diaphragmatic spasm, or by other structural defects, such as esophageal disease. So, while it is technically possible that hiccups can indicate health problems, it would be limited to situations like these where the hiccup occurrs as a presentation of an underlying condition.

For most of those cases, the hiccups may be particularly severe, or even intractable until the underlying cause is addressed. For most people, the average bout of hiccups remains nothing more than an inconvenience, even though apart from cases that have been documented to have a specific cause, the physiology of the hiccup itself remains relatively unkonwn. I have not been able to find any documented evidence that the average episode of hiccups is in any way harmful.

Also, in order to disprove the "one day off of your life" idea, I present the case of Charles Osbourne (1894-1991) who is widely documented to have hiccuped continuously from 1922 until 1990, for a total of 68 years.

  • The only other thing I would possibly wonder about is if someone had a hypothetical case of particularly violent hiccups and if the spasms themselves might do some damage. This is just me speculating. – TheTXI Apr 19 '11 at 0:34
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    Apart from the possibility of muscle strain, I've found no documentation of any severe or lasting injury caused by hiccups. I would be interested if anyone else has, though. Cheers :) – Monkey Tuesday Apr 19 '11 at 0:39
  • +1 for "faulted pacemaker leads". How extraordinary! – Oddthinking May 30 '11 at 11:52

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