Hiccups. They make us laugh while being one of the most annoying conditions to experience. Relatively harmless, hiccups are an involuntary response, or reflex, that seems to occur at the worst times. They can affect males and females of all ages and are one of the most recognizable sounds. We will look at why this phenomenon occurs and how to get rid of hiccups with simple tips and tricks.
In medical terms, hiccups are referred to as a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus, derived from the Latin word for “gasping.” Hiccups are the result of a sudden, uncontrolled contraction of the diaphragm. Because the diaphragm is a muscle that assists in our ability to breathe, these contractions force the vocal cords to close, giving the “hic” sound to escape. Hiccups may result from several innocent factors in most cases, but they can also be triggered by a serious underlying health condition. So, why do we get hiccups? Let’s try to answer this long-standing question.
What Causes Hiccups?
Sometimes our hiccups start after eating or drinking, or even when we experience a rush of excitement. These hiccups usually last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two, and are of no concern other than the embarrassing gasps of sound. Hiccups that last for days may be the sign of a more serious condition and could lead to severe consequences. Here are some of the most common short-term sources:
- Carbonated soda
- Hot drinks
- Use of straw
- Emotional stress
- Surgical procedures
Hiccups that last longer than two days are referred to as persistent hiccups. They may be caused by a health condition and are usually accompanied by other symptoms. Cases lasting one month or more are known as intractable hiccups and may lead to exhaustion, weight loss, and lack of sleep. These circumstances are rare. Conditions that can cause hiccups to last more than a couple of days include:
- Acid reflux
- Gallbladder infection
- Lack of nutrients in bloodstream
- Abdominal infections
- Sore throat
- Head injury
- Heart attack
- Brain infection
How to Cure Hiccups
How do you get rid of hiccups? You may follow a unique personalized treatment as most people swear by various tips and tricks that work for them. Generally, hiccups need no treatment because they will eventually go away. But for fun, we have listed traditional home remedies for those wondering just how to stop hiccups.
1. Sip ice water.
2. Hold your breath for one minute.
3. Breathe into a paper bag.
4. Eat a spoonful of honey, vinegar, sugar, or peanut butter.
5. Apply pressure to the chest with your knees.
6. Bite a slice of lemon.
7. Drink from the other side of a glass.
8. Ask someone to scare you.
9. Pull hard on the tongue.
If these, or your own preferred remedy, do not help or the hiccups persist for more than 48 hours, seek medical advice to treat the underlying condition as well as the hiccup symptom. You may be prescribed medication to control and stop hiccups by relaxing the diaphragm, eliminating acid in the stomach, or alleviating any physical stress. More stubborn hiccups may be treated with acupuncture, hypnotherapy, or an electronic device to control the phrenic nerve in the diaphragm.
How to Prevent Hiccups
Try as we might, we may not be able to completely avoid getting the hiccups. Knowing the causes of mild forms of hiccups could help to reduce the risk of developing them. This can include avoiding triggers such as excess alcohol, gassy foods, smoking, and talking while eating. While eating, you may also want to take small bites and slowly chew each mouthful.
Having hiccups is aggravating because they usually pop up during quiet moments such as in church, class, or during a meeting. While hiccups are usually harmless and brief, there are cases that signal a serious health condition. The hiccups associated with these cases can last for days, weeks, and even years. Did you know the longest hiccup case documented lasted for 68 years? You may feel like your hiccups could last that long, but try the natural remedies suggested the next time you’re pondering how to get rid of hiccups.
“Hiccups (Hiccoughs),” Patient; https://patient.info/in/health/hiccups-hiccoughs#references, last accessed May 25, 2017.
“Hiccups,” NHS; http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hiccup/Pages/Introduction.aspx, last accessed May 25, 2017.