Find out what hiccups are and how to get rid of them


How to stop this involuntary reflex

It has happened to everyone: the hiccups. And even though this is a very natural phenomenon that comes and goes without a warning, it can be kind of annoying to *hiccup* in public. So what are the hiccups and how do you get rid of them? 

The hiccups

This reflex is caused by your diaphragm. Because of a contraction in the muscle group that separates the abdomen from the chest, your vocal cords will close. This will cause you to make the familiar ‘hic’ sound. There are different causes for the hiccups. These include changes in temperature, a large meal, alcohol or drinks that are carbonated, and excitement. Usually your hiccups will only last a few minutes. If they last longer than 48 hours, you might want to see a medical professional.

The interesting thing about the hiccups, is that it does not seem to serve a purpose. Other body reflexes like sneezing and coughing do: they clear the nose and airways of unwanted material. The hiccups don’t seem to have any purpose other than causing a sound that can make other people laugh.

Stop the hiccups

So how do we stop from doing something that we didn’t mean to do in the first place? Usually, the hiccups disappear by themselves. But when they don’t, there are some things you can try to get rid of them fast. One of these methods has something to do with a change in your breathing. The amount of carbon dioxide in your blood might be responsible for stopping the hiccups. That is why your breathing could be an important factor for getting rid of this unwanted reflex. You can hold your breath, breathe in and out more quickly or breathe into a bag. This will cause a change in the levels of carbon dioxide in your blood, influencing your hiccups, causing them to stop eventually. Another method is to drink some water. That way you influence your breathing too without having to actively change the rhythm of your breath.

Of course, these methods don’t all work for everyone. It’s a case of trial and error. So try out some different methods to see what you prefer. And if you enjoy a good scare, a trip to a haunted house might just be the cure for you!

Also read: Get some fresh air: should you spend time outside in the winter?

Source: Max Vandaag, Mayo Clinic, NCBI, Medical News Today | Image: Pixabay, RobinHiggins