Hiccups may cause you to blush;
Folks may think that you’re a lush.
As you hic, maintain your smile.
Hold your breath and wait a while.
Before you know it, they’ll subside.
Just try not to be mortified!
Probably everyone has experienced these sudden spasms known as hiccups, or hiccoughs. These surprising contractions of the diaphragm are generally harmless, but they can be a nuisance and a distraction. In fact, they can be downright embarrassing, if they occur at inappropriate times . . . such as during a written exam, church service, or job interview.
What Causes Hiccups?
Eating or drinking too much or too fast is the most common cause. Consuming large quantities of carbonated or alcoholic beverages may sometimes be blamed. At times, hiccups may be an involuntary defense against choking.
Surprise, excitement, and stress can cause us to gasp, and the sudden intake of air may cause hiccups. Laughing, being tickled and burping contests can cause them too.
How Do Hiccups Happen?
The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle inside the abdominal cavity. It is essential to normal breathing. When you breathe in, the diaphragm helps pull the oxygen into your lungs. When you breathe out, it pushes up to help your lungs expel the air.
Place your hands on your abdomen, just below your rib cage. Breathe in and out. You can feel your diaphragm rise and fall. (Singers actually perform this exercise to build breath support for sustaining long notes.)
If your diaphragm is somehow irritated, it can begin twitching and lurching. Suddenly, you find yourself sucking air, which comes popping back into your larynx, or voice box, with a gulping sound. That’s a hiccup.
How Can Hiccups Be Halted?
Many home remedies have been offered over the years. You can have someone startle you, breathe into a small paper bag, do sit-ups, drink a large glass of water, sip a water bottle (while upside down), pull gently on your tongue, hang from your knees upside down (as on a trapeze), hold your breath (and count to 20), hold your nose, massage the roof of your mouth, place a teaspoonful of sugar under your tongue, press your tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as you can, or simply take a walk.
Many people swear by these anti-hiccup ingredients: chocolate, corn syrup, dill pickles, honey, jalapeno peppers, marshmallows, mustard, peanut butter, peppermints, and sugar.
How Long Do Hiccups Last?
Often, hiccups will abate on their own within a few minutes. Occasionally, they may last for several days or even weeks. When this happens, the hiccups usually signal a more serious medical condition. Irritations of the throat or stomach, such as acid reflux, may trigger hiccups. In severe cases, recurrent hiccups may be a symptom of pneumonia, kidney failure, or even esophageal cancer.
Generally, medical help is not needed for hiccups, unless they occur repeatedly, last for more than a couple of hours, or lead to the spitting up of blood.
In most cases, if you can just wait it out, the hiccups will cease.