Hiccups – some facts about this strange phenomenon

We all know what it’s like to be suddenly stricken with a bout of hiccups, and we also typically look for some traditional solutions to this odd reflex. It sometimes feels like they will never go away, but in this article, we are going see how to effectively end this annoyance.

Hiccups happen as a result of the phrenic nerve becoming agitated. This is the nerve that contracts the diaphragm behind the throat. What we call hiccups is actually the repeated contraction of muscles with produces that classic “hic” sound in the back of the mouth. But there are also other systems at work when it comes to hiccups, including the nervous and respiratory systems and the hypothalamus.

hand on neck

Truth be told, the real cause of irritation in the phrenic nerve is still not fully understood, but there have been certain conditions that have been associated with causing hiccups to occur. Some of these conditions are the rapid ingestion of alcohol, high-emotion states, temperature change, and the dilation of the stomach.

Prevention and Cure

anatomy of chest and head

There are several ways to prevent hiccups from happening in the first place, and here is a list of some of them:

  • Avoid eating too quickly
  • Try to chew food thoroughly before swallowing
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Avoid food and drink that is too hot or cold

If you are already experiencing hiccups, it is more than likely that you want to get rid of them as soon as possible. To do this, start by taking a very deep breath. Hold the air in your lungs for about 20 seconds, then exhale. By doing this, you are giving the diaphragm time to relax, which results in less frequent contractions.

man under water

Some other techniques include sipping water slowly and eating a small spoonful of sugar. If none of these options have any effect, you can also try applying slight pressure to the auricles, the area right outside the ear, with your index fingers. This is a common practice in acupuncture because it is one of the many pressure points of the body.

Related articles