Hiccups occur when the muscle wall between the chest and the abdomen, which is the Diaphragm spasms. When this happens, air rushes into the lungs, causing the vocal cords to quickly close, and hence, a hiccup occurs. Generally, hiccups are uncontrolled and unanticipated, which could make it annoying, when it becomes repetitive.
They tend to interfere with eating, talking, and some other natural processes. The medical term for hiccups is Singultus, and that’s a new one for your science vocab!
Causes of Hiccups
Although hiccups occur involuntarily, there are some common causes that bring about their occurrence. Find all about these hiccup triggers below:
1. Eating spicy food, too much food, and eating quickly:
When you eat too much or too quickly, it causes certain reactions in your body system, which leads to a hiccup. Also, when you eat too spicy or peppery food, you experience a hiccup. Hence, it is advised to eat smaller amounts of food per servings, eat slower, and reduce spicy food.
2. Drinking too much carbonated drink and alcohol:
Excessive drinking of alcoholic and carbonated drinks also leads to hiccups. This is because the carbonation expands your stomach, and this expansion can irritate your diaphragm, causing you to hiccup. It is advised to reduce the amount of alcoholic and carbonated drinks taken, to stop hiccups to a large extent.
Stress and other intense emotions, such as feeling nervous or excited, can also lead to persistent hiccups. It is important to relieve stress and anxiety when under stressful and tense situations, as it helps control and stop hiccups.
4. Change in Temperature:
A drastic and sudden change in your body temperature can also lead to hiccups. This is because a change in temperature causes a disturbance to the nerve pathways from the brain to the muscles involved in causing a hiccup.
Easy tips on how to stop hiccups
There are so many ways to stop a hiccup that have been suggested by various people. And while some of them may prove to work, some others are only old wives’ fables; they don’t work. Some methods that you can try are discussed below.
1. Use Breathing Techniques:
This is one sure-fire way to stop a hiccup. You can practice measured breathing by breathing in and out for some time. This would help regulate your breathing rate, and it surely works for stopping hiccups.
Another breathing technique to try is to hold your breath. Simply breathe in a large gulp of air and hold it for some time, after which you then release and breathe out slowly. Holding your breath allows carbon dioxide to build in your lungs, and this makes your diaphragm relax. You can also breathe into a paper bag, to stop a hiccup. This would raise the carbon dioxide level in your blood and stop you from hiccuping.
2. Apply Pressure:
This is another sure way to prevent a hiccup, and this can be done by hugging your knees. Sit comfortably, preferably on a low seat, then bring your knees close to your chest for few minutes. This helps to build pressure and stops you from hiccuping. Also, leaning and bending forward to compress your chest puts pressure on your diaphragm, and helps you to stop hiccuping. Another way to apply pressure is by pulling on your tongue and tugging its tip. This stimulates the nerves and muscles in your throat and would ease your diaphragm.
3. Drink water:
Another way to stop hiccups is by drinking some cold water. The water takes care of the irritation already present in the diaphragm and eases it up, hence stopping the hiccup. Drinking a glass of warm water slowly, without breathing, also helps to stop a hiccup.
4. Swallow a spoonful of sugar:
Studies have proven that a teaspoon of sugar can cure hiccups. And this was proven in a 1971 study, where 19 out of 20 patients were cured of hiccuping with a spoonful of sugar.
This method works because sugar affects the vague nerve, which connects the brain and stomach. When this occurs, the back of the throat is irritated, causing an interruption in the spasms, and which in turn stops hiccups.
Hiccups, to an extent, are a natural occurrence, which is caused as a result of the diaphragm spasming involuntarily. Naturally, hiccups go away on their own without requiring medical treatment. However, when it occurs persistently, it is advised to see a medical doctor, as it may be as a result of an underlying medical problem.