You’ve just hiccuped for what seems like the 100th time. You start to wonder if they will ever stop. More important, you wonder what you can do to make the hiccups stop.
Before we explore the cure for hiccups, let’s find out what a hiccup really is.
When it comes to hiccups, the diaphragm is the culprit. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of your chest.
Normally the diaphragm works perfectly. As you inhale, it pulls down, helping your body draw air into your lungs. When you exhale, it moves up to force air out of the lungs.
Your diaphragm works hard day and night, and most of the time it goes unnoticed — at least until you are struck with a case of hiccups.
When the diaphragm becomes irritated, it jerks downward, causing you to suddenly draw air into your throat. The abrupt rush of air causes your vocal cords to close, causing a hiccup sound.
There are several things that irritate the diaphragm, including laughing too hard, drinking carbonated beverages, and eating or drinking too quickly or too much. Hiccups can also be a side effect of some prescription medicines.
In rare instances, hiccups can last for days or weeks. An American man named Charles Osborne had hiccups from 1920 to 1992. Charles’ 72 years of hiccups earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Another strange case of hiccups occurred when a man named Christopher Sands had hiccups for almost three years. Eventually doctors discovered Christopher had a tumor in the part of his brain responsible for muscle activity. Once the tumor was removed, Christopher’s hiccups disappeared.
So now that you have hiccups, what can you do to put an end to them?
The unfortunate truth is this: There is no one definite way to cure hiccups, but there are a lot of suggestions on how to try:
- Hold your breath.
- Drink water from the opposite side of the cup.
- Put a pinch of sugar under your tongue.
- Ask someone to scare you.
- Gargle with ice water.
- Pull out your tongue (this supposedly stimulates the “vagus nerve” and stops spasms of the diaphragm).
- Breathe into a paper bag.