Let's agree, most of us would have encountered at least one situation when you began hiccupping and just couldn't stop, be it in front of guests at home, or colleagues at work. And although the incessant nagging in your throat eventually ceases, these instances can be embarrassing and even affect your performance at the workplace or interfere with your daily life.
So What Exactly Is A Hiccup?
A hiccup is basically an involuntary action of muscles present in the throat canal. It occurs when the diaphragm muscles contract suddenly and are not within the control of the person. It leads to the closing of the vocal cords, emitting a prominent intermittent sound. Hiccups are caused due to various reasons. Being stressed, gobbling down a meal, stuffing your stomach with too much food and certain lung disorders like pneumonia which irritate the diaphragm can give rise to hiccups. Less often, severe triggers such as a stroke, brain tumour or hypersensitivity to other medications can also contribute to persistent hiccups.
In medical terms, a hiccup means a sudden contraction of the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles that are situated between the ribs. This spasm collides with the closed larynx and causes the hiccup sound and mild jerk. Some more trigger factors for hiccups have been identified, which include:
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Consuming excess alcohol
- Taking in too much air while you exhale more than you inhale. This may result in carbon dioxide levels to drop, which upsets the breathing pattern and cause hiccups
- Eating large quantities of food and too quickly
- Consuming spicy foods
- Eating or drinking something hot or cold, basically a sudden change in body temperature
- Extreme emotions like fear, stress, anxiety, or emotionally excited
For some people with chronic hiccups, there could be several underlying health conditions that causes including respiratory problems like asthma or pneumonia, gastrointestinal disorders like IBS (inflammatory bowel disease) and long-term usage of certain medications. Although hiccup is the common term, the condition is medically referred to as singultus. Usually, they only last for a few minutes in a day and gradually stop on their own. And in case you're looking for some quick-fix solutions to pacify those sudden bouts of hiccups, read on.
Also Read: Incessant Hiccups Could Indicate Serious Health Problems That Need Urgent Attention
Simple Home Remedies For Hiccups:
1. Pat On The Back
When hiccupping uncontrollably, gently pat your back, from behind your neck along your spine. This helps release the tension in the diaphragm muscles and stops hiccups.
2. Drink Some Warm Water
Slowly sip on a glass of warm water. This helps stimulate the activity of the vagus nerve, that travels from the brain down to the stomach and thus reduces hiccups.
3. Place Sugar On The Tongue
Take about half a teaspoon of sugar and keep it at the far end of the back of the tongue. Hold this for two minutes and then swallow the sugar. Applying pressure along with the tongue aids in eliminating the tightness in diaphragm muscles.
4. Bite A Slice Of Lemon
The pleasant aroma combined with the tangy flavour of lemons naturally invigorates the nasopharynx muscles. This, in turn, relaxes the knots in the diaphragm muscles and decreases hiccups.
Also Read: 6 Reasons Why You Should Drink Lemon And Honey Water
5. Hold The Breath
Holding the breath for a few seconds effectively retains some carbon dioxide in the body. This functions to eliminate the spasms in the diaphragm, thereby preventing hiccups.
Natural Therapy Involving Pressure Points To Stop Hiccups:
Applying pressure on certain areas of your body that are particularly sensitive to pressure points may help to ease hiccups by relaxing the diaphragm or stimulating vagus or phrenic nerves.