The Curse of the Hiccups


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"Just hold your breath!" "No let me scare them out of you!" "Drink water upside down!" "Stop eating so fast!"
For those of you who suffer from getting the hiccups a little more often than you would want, those sayings sound all too familiar. As someone who eats way too fast for anyone's own good, it's strange for me to go a day without getting those dreaded hiccups. Sometimes I'm lucky and they go away within a minute, other times, I try every single trick in the book and yet I still find myself helplessly convulsing and making those weird hiccup sounds. So why does our body put us through this torturing, annoying sensation? 
Since I am no hiccup expert or specialist, when it comes to what hiccups actually are this article says it best, "There are over 100 causes for hiccups, but the most common is irritation of the stomach or the oesophagus - the food tube that leads to it. The "hic" noise comes when the breath is cut off by the snapping shut of your glottis - which is like a fleshy lid or trapdoor that separates the food and air tubes in your throat." There are a lot of technical terms in that description, but basically a hiccup is a disruption in our breathing process.
Eating or drinking at irregular pace is probably one of the most common ways to get hiccups, but have you ever heard of getting them from certain emotions or even a drastic change in temperature? According to another article, both of those things can be responsible for a person getting hiccups. How do we know this? That's a great question that I couldn't seem to find any good scientific evidence on. 
Probably one of the most scary things when getting the hiccups is if you'll ever get rid of them. We all hear horror stories of people being stuck with hiccups for months, even years. One man, Charles Osborne, had hiccups for 68 years! Obviously this is a very rare case, but there are different levels of hiccups people can suffer from. The five groups they can be classified into are: common, persistent, acute, intractable and diabolic. It has been recommended that if you have the hiccups for more than 48 you should go to the doctors ASAP because they could be the cause of a more serious health issue. 
So that's hiccups in a little bit more detail, but do you think there has ever been a purpose for them? Scientists have debated that in the past hiccups helped animals swallow large food. Do you have any reasons as to why hiccups come about? Do you have any special remedy that always helps you get rid of hiccups? If it were possible to test if hiccups help or hinder our bodies, how do you think we could go about that? To me, it seems like hiccups will forever be one of those annoying things that we just can't seem to do anything about. 

Photo courtesy of http://www.everydaynodaysoff.com
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3 Comments

Hiccups are so annoying and it seems they are impossible to get rid of. After reading your post, I was curious about the reasons behind the "hiccup remedies."

After looking into it, there are legitimate reasons for these seemingly silly cures. Medicinenet.com explained these cures pretty well. Holding your breath causes the body to hold onto carbon dioxide, which relaxes the diaphragm, therefore stopping the hiccups.

Drinking water or having someone scare you stimulate the nasopharynx and vagus nerve, therefore eliminating hiccups.

See if you can play doctor and solve the case of the hiccups!
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/think-like-a-doctor-a-case-of-hiccups/?_r=0

Hi Mackenzie,

I too get hiccups very often. I have never known why I get hiccups so often, however I've tried almost every resolution to make them stop. As a little kid, my favorite methods were holding my breath as well as drinking little sips of water out of a straw. These never really seemed to help. A couple of years ago, I had a really awful case of the hiccups and my brother ran up to me and asked "What swims in the sea!?" and I responded, confused, "fish?" Next thing you know my hiccups were gone. My brother says it's magic, I say it's a combination of a surprise factor and pure luck. So, if you'd like to try that method, feel free! If you're still looking for more solutions to hiccups, here is an article that has a TON of ideas! Let me know if they work! http://www.wikihow.com/Cure-Hiccups

I've actually been diagnosed with chronic hiccups. Stay with me. They're very spiratic, but I hiccup on average 25 times a day- it's miserable. Fortunately, they've started going away as I grow older. Sometimes, although though not for myself, hiccups that persist may indicate the presence of another medical problem, including pleurisy of the diaphragm, pneumonia, uremia, alcoholism, disorders of the stomach or esophagus, and bowel diseases. Hiccups may also be associated with pancreatitis, pregnancy, bladder irritation, liver cancer or hepatitis. Surgery, tumors, and lesions may also cause persistent hiccups.
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/hiccups-chronic

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