We all get them – the dreaded hiccups. In fact, we get the hiccups even before we are born. Any pregnant woman will laugh at her jumping belly, when the little baby inside has the hiccups. Some people say that babies that frequently had the hiccups when still in the womb are also more prone to developing hiccups during their day to day lives. The hiccups can be incredibly annoying. In fact, if they last for a long time, they can become painful.
What Are Hiccups and What Causes Hiccups?
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle underneath your rib cage. When they spasm at the same time as a contraction of your larynx (the voice box), the glottis is completely blocked, meaning you are unable to intake air. The exact cause of them is actually unknown, but we know they are usually linked to a minor stomach upset. It is also believed that the hiccups can be caused by psychological reasons, although this is unproven. We do know that there are certain conditions that make it worse, including overeating, gas and bloating, an irritation from hot food, eating too quickly, temperature changes, drinking fizzy drinks and more. In general, hiccups are harmless, but if they continue for prolonged periods of time, they can have complications, including weight loss, fatigue, insomnia, depression, problems in communication and issues with wound healing. The longest session of hiccups on record is 68 years. During the first few decades, Charles Osborn hiccuped 40 times a minute. Towards the end of his life, this was reduced to 20 times a minute. Mr. Osborn effectively hiccuped for all of his adult life.
How to Stop Hiccups
We know how annoying the hiccups are and most of us want to know how to stop hiccups immediately. Generally, if there is no issue with prolonged hiccuping, you will not require any medical treatment. The best hiccup remedies tend to be at home remedies that work for almost everyone. The most popular and efficient ways to stop hiccups, that do work if timed just right, include:
• Holding your nose, covering your ears and drinking several sips of water without stopping for breath. (This technique works almost every time if applied correctly. It’s a little difficult to use it on your own. You might need an extra helping hand which has to hold your glass of water. Check the photo provided above.)
• Getting a sudden fright
• Keeping your breath in as long as possible
• Taking seven sips of a drink without stopping for breath
• Drinking upside down
• Lighting a match, extinguishing it and sliding it into the hair at the hairline on the forehead.
There are thousands of other remedies out there and people swear by them. Since they are all harmless, you may as well give them a try. However, if you have chronic hiccups, the problem may become a bit more annoying. As mentioned, this can lead to complications. In this case, treatment is almost always medicinal. A range of different medications can be prescribed, including muscle relaxant, anti-psychotic drugs, epilepsy drugs and anti-nausea medication.
Other Types of Hiccups
Hiccups occur in people of all ages, genders and races. There are two times where they are often more annoying, however. The first is hiccups in newborns. Little children who are newborn may find it very scary if the hiccups become chronic, which can lead to upsets. However, more often than not, newborns will soon let out a piercing cry (because they are hungry, cold, bored or wet), which will cure the hiccups. Hiccups during pregnancy are also very common, particularly because the baby starts to press up against the diaphragm. It is often recommended to sip icy cold water in order to alleviate these symptoms, or to gargle, which also seems to work.