What causes hiccups?
“Hiccups, or hiccoughs, are involuntary sounds made by spasms of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large sheet of muscle slung beneath the lungs that, together with the intercostal muscles, causes us to breathe. The muscular spasm of these muscles sucks air into the lungs, and the quick inhalation makes a structure inside the throat (called the epiglottis) slam shut. (The epiglottis is a flap of tissue that closes over the windpipe during swallowing to prevent the inhalation of food, fluids or saliva.) This sharp closure of the epiglottis causes the characteristic ‘hic’ sound of hiccups.”
1. There are medications to treat hiccups
If you have a bad case of the hiccups that goes on for longer than two days, you may need to see a doctor. If the case is deemed severe enough, Health Direct says that medications such as anaesthetics, corticosteroids and some anxiety, blood pressure and seizure medications have been prescribed for hiccups in Australia.
2. Animals can get hiccups, too
Science Focus magazine reports that animals get hiccups when something irritates the diaphragm, making it contract suddenly, which pushes air into the lungs so quickly that the epiglottis in the throat shuts. The magazine reported that any animal with this breathing mechanism can experience hiccups.
3. Unborn babies can hiccup
The pregnancy guide on Kidspot reports that during pregnancy a baby in the womb can start to experience hiccups, thought to be caused by irregular contractions of the baby’s immature diaphragm.
4. There was a man who had hiccups for 68 years
Between the years 1922 and 1990 US man Charles Osborne had the hiccups, he currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest case of hiccups, according to BBC.
5. Hiccups can be caused by strong emotions or temperature changes
A Harvard Health blog written by the Harvard health faculty editor explained that a sudden change in temperature (either inside or outside your body), smoking cigarettes or strong emotions such as excitement or stress can cause hiccups.
You can also get hiccups from swallowing too much air, eating too much food or drinking too much alcohol, as all these things can irritate the diaphragm.
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