Home & Family

What You Should Know About Hiccups

“A man rushed into a chemist’s and asked, “ Do you have anything to stop hiccups?” Without a word the chemist filled a glass with water and then threw the water into the customer’s face. After he had recovered from the shock the man bellowed, “What did you do that for!?” “Well,” said the chemist smugly, “you don’t have hiccups now do you?” “No,” fumed the man, “but my wife still does out in the car.”

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are a symptom. They are caused by involuntary spasms of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and plays a role in breathing.

What happens during hiccups?

Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of the vocal cords. This produces the “hic” sound.

What generally causes hiccups?

They may result from eating a large meal, consuming carbonated beverages, alcohol consumption, or excitement. Sometimes the cause is unknown and infrequently they may indicate underlying medical conditions.

Can hiccups persist?

Though hiccups may be repetitive, they are generally short-lived. Most times they are not a sign of anything serious. Rarely, they may persist for months and may be related to conditions such as nerve damage or irritation, or central nervous or metabolic disorders.

Can I make hiccups go away?

Often hiccups go away on their own. However, some home remedies have been reported to stop hiccups. This includes breathing into a paper bag (do not put on head), sipping ice-cold water, biting on a lemon, holding one’s breath for a short period, pulling one’s knees up to one’s chest and leaning forward, or filling a glass with water, placing a metal spoon into the glass, and then sipping the water while holding the upper part of the metal handle against one’s temple.

When should you see a doctor?

For hiccups that last more than 48 hours or interfere with eating, sleeping, speaking, or breathing, seek medical help.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice.


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