Having a hiccup is one of the most uncomfortable feelings a person can experience. It can interrupt major daily activities such as talking and eating. Some hiccups can even cause chest pain. What’s worst, it is difficult to pinpoint its cause. A hiccup lasts for just a few minutes or sometimes up to an hour, but at times some can have it many days in a row.
Do you have an idea what’s happening inside your body when you have it? Have you ever tried asking someone on how to stop it? Well, it’s best to know why people can have hiccups and what home remedies can be used to prevent and stop it.
WHAT IS IT
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest. Upon contraction, the glottis, which is the opening of the esophagus at the throat level, closes to produce an unusual sound. Hiccups that last a few minutes are not considered abnormal. They are called physiologic hiccups. This can be hereditary.
Abnormal hiccups that last for several days to several weeks are called intractable hiccups. Hiccups like this have various causes like diaphragm irritation, stomach distention from dyspepsia or gas. It can be from irritation of the nerve in the diaphragm or from stimulation in the brain as in stroke patients. Tumors and electrolyte imbalances are less common causes. There are also medicines that can initiate hiccups, due to irritation on the stomach.
SCIENCE FACT & TRIVIA ABOUT HICCUPS:
Hiccups are seen in a wide variety of animals and are very common in the fetus. They have been recorded physiologically in animal studies and are easily recognized on ultrasounds of human babies. Hiccups appear before breathing movements as the fetus develops and are common in newborns but gradually disappear over the next few months.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Check your family if there are members who have the same problem. Review your diet. Are you eating too much spicy or sour food? Are you consuming a lot of legumes, sweet potato, cabbage and other farm products that produce gas?
There are home remedies that have been passed on by old folks, like sudden fright, eating granulated sugar, drinking cold liquids, sipping using a straw and breathing into a rebreathing bag. The last remedy seems to be the most practical and most effective way to control physiologic hiccups. The explanation for this maneuver is that the exhaled carbon dioxide somehow stops the abdominal muscle contractions. A brown paper bag is used as rebreathing bag to breathe into for several minutes.
WHAT YOUR DOCTOR CAN DO
Intractable or recurrent hiccups need medical attention. Treatment consists of giving medicines like metoclopramide and chlorpromazine that will lessen the pressure in the stomach or abdomen. Drugs like phenytoin, valproic and baclofen will also control the contractions.
If the above medicines will still not help, then either phrenic nerve stimulation or nerve crushing (by surgery) can be done. This method has been shown to be effective.
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