Have you heard of the old wives tale about hiccups? One romantic version of such a tale is that when a bride hiccups on the eve of her wedding day, a past love is thinking of her and regrets the end of their relationship. Another tale is that someone who thinks ill of you may be complaining about you or backstabbing you to another person. To stop your hiccup, you have to guess who that backstabbing person is. But these are only tales because there is a scientific explanation for hiccups and real ways to make them stop.
What is a hiccup anyway? What is the real cause of a hiccup? What are the true and tested ways of curing or stopping a hiccup?
Hiccups are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle. With every contraction of this muscle, your vocal cords also snap shut and produce the “hic” sound. Hiccups are usually temporary, it may happen for just a few minutes, but it can be quite annoying to be hiccupping your way through a discussion in class or a presentation at work.
What Causes Hiccups?
To debunk all the old wives tales about hiccups and to properly manage them, here are the real facts and causes why you hiccup.
- When you eat real fast. : Aside from indigestion, you may also start to hiccup if you eat fast mainly because you may be swallowing air as you chew.
- When you eat too much spicy and fatty foods. : When you eat spicy food, you may find yourself taking long, deep breaths with every swallow. These will surely trigger your vocal cords to close and also irritate your esophagus and stomach and then lead to hiccups. Fatty foods cause acid reflux- when acid flows back from your stomach to your esophagus. When acid reflux happens, your throat and esophagus are irritated and then also results to hiccups.
- Drinking too much carbonated drinks and alcohol. : The acidic content of your regular soda and your bottle of beer irritates the stomach and the diaphragm thus causing the hiccups.
- When your nerves are irritated. : The vagus nerves and the phrenic nerves all function and serve the diaphragm. When you suffer from a sore throat or laryngitis, when you hava a tumor or cyst on your neck, and when you have gastroesophageal reflux, these nerves are irritated and damaged and may cause your long term or prolonged hiccups.
- When you laugh too much. : Expect to get so much air when you get into laughing fits that can then to hiccup fits. When you swallow too much air because of laughing, your diaphragm and throat gets irritated and then the hiccup begins.
- When you suffer from central nervous system (CNS) disorders. : Stroke, encephalitis, traumatic brain injury, and meningitis are just some central nervous conditions that may disrupt your hiccup reflex.
- When you had abdominal surgery. : The stress and damage that your stomach went though with surgery also irritates your diaphragm muscles and causes prolonged hiccups.
How Can You Really Stop or Avoid Hiccups
Again, you don’t need to painstakingly think of someone who hates you in order to stop your hiccups. You can try these practical steps to stop your hiccups.
- Drink a glass of cold water or suck on an ice cube.
- Hold your breath for as long as you can.
- Breathe into a paper bag.
- Gargle with ice water.
- Consult with your doctor for medications for chronic or prolonged hiccups.
- If the need arises, go for invasive medical treatment to stop chronic hiccups.
- Avoid too many spicy, fatty, and gassy foods.
- Choose water over carbonated drinks.
- Stop smoking and alcohol drinking.