Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that sets apart your chest from your abdomen and plays an important role in breathing. The contraction is followed by an immediate closure of your vocal cords as it produces the characteristics “hic” sound.
Hiccups may result from meals, alcoholic or carbonated beverages, or also from excitement. In some cases, hiccups may be a sign of an underlying medical condition as they last only a few minutes. Rarely, hiccups may persist for months which can result in weight loss and also exhaustion.
What Causes Hiccups?
Most of the time, there is no exact cause for the hiccups. However, there are some known cases of hiccups. Some causes are:
- Eating too quickly and swallowing air with the food.
- eating too much fatty or spicy food as well as drinking too many carbonated beverages or alcohol can distend the stomach and cause irritation of the diaphragm which causes hiccups.
- Abdominal surgery can also irritate the nerve that controls the diaphragm may cause hiccups.
- Brain tumors which involve the brain stem and some chronic medical disorder have also been reported to cause hiccups.
- The extreme change in temperature.
- noxious fumes
Some medication may also have hiccups as a side effect like:
- Medication used for acid reflux
- Most benxodiazepines that include the diazepam, lorazepam.
- Levodopa, nicotine
Symptoms Of Hiccups
The symptoms of hiccups are:
- A sharp contraction of the diaphragm is felt just below the breast bone.
- Air is involuntary which is sucked into the throat.
- The closing epiglottis makes a sound that appears ‘hic’.
- It usually stops after a few minutes.
How To Get Rid Of Hiccups?
Hold Your Breath
Try holding your breath just for 30 to 45 seconds or even for a long period of time if you can. Holding your brain builds up carbon dioxide in your lungs which helps to relax your diaphragm. If just holding your breath does not work then try holding your breath and swallow at least for two or three times.
Try drinking water or even gargling with the cold water. Take several stops of water in a row in order to exercise your esophagus and release the tension in the diaphragm. If this does not work then try gargling with cold water for 20 to 30 seconds. If neither of these does the trick that drinks a glass of cold water quickly.
Cupping a paper bag to your mouth and breathing in and out rapidly could relieve hiccups even faster. Like holding your breath, the paper bag technique will build up carbon dioxide in your lungs which will aid in relaxing the diaphragm. Stop immediately if you start to feel dizzy.
Lemons And Bitter
Bartenders have a lot of experience dealing with patrons who have problems with the hiccups on a night out. Experienced bartenders suggest coating a lemon with bitter and having the hiccup sufferer bite the lemon whereas some of the barkeeps claim this is instantaneous and fool-proof hiccup care.
Munch on and swallow a handful of dill seeds. By doing this will activate the vagus nerve in your diaphragm stopping hiccups in their tracks.
While it might be embarrassing if you are in public if you are at home this method is very helpful. Sticking out your tongue stimulates the glottis or the opening between your vocal cords which can ease the spasms that cause hiccups.
This is another method that may require some privacy to avert embarrassment. Stick your fingers in your ears and keep them there for at least 25 to 30 seconds. This technique will send a message to your brain in order to relax the vagus neve by calming your hiccups.
Eating peanut butter will divert your diaphragm from hiccuping. All of the work it takes to successfully chew, swallow, and rid your mouth of peanut butter will change your breathing process and give your diaphragm time to relax and forget hiccuping.
Hiccups are tough to handle if you don’t know how to get rid of them. They can be a real pain and an embarrassment around your family, friends, and coworker where they may try to scare them out of you to no avail.