Hiccups explained

A hiccup is a short and involuntary contraction of the diaphragm muscle. When this muscle contracts, the opening between the vocal chords snaps shut to stop the inflow of air. This sudden closing causes the hiccup sound.

This contraction is caused by an irritation of the nerves that extend between the neck and the chest. There are a number of potential causes for this contraction:

• chewing gum
• swallowing air
• smoking
• eating or drinking too fast. This can cause you to swallow air, causing hiccups
• anxiety
• some medications that cause acid reflux as a side-effect
• damage to the phrenic or vagus nerve
• swelling or infection of the liver
• noxious fumes.

Although hiccups will normally go away by themselves with no ongoing side-effects, according to emedicinehealth.com a number of home remedies for hiccups do actually work. You can drink a glass of water quickly, hold your breath, pull hard on your tongue or even have someone scare you.

While hiccups normally aren’t a reason for concern, if they become persistent, frequent, interrupt your ability to eat or sleep, cause you to throw up or feel severe pain, last more than three hours or make you feel as though you can’t breathe, you should seek medical attention.

What is the silliest thing you’ve ever done to get rid of hiccups? Do you have any hiccup home remedies you’d like to share?

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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