What are Hiccups?
Hiccups, which in medicine is called singult, are an inspiratory sound produced as a consequence of the sudden, involuntary, intermittent contraction of the diaphragm (a muscle at the base of the lungs) that causes the epiglottis to close, causing the typical hic sound.
Hiccups are an involuntary movement of the diaphragm (the muscle used for breathing), which contracts suddenly in the middle of normal breathing.
These spasms are followed by a closing of the vocal cords, which gives rise to a particular sound.
Hiccups most commonly last a few minutes but may last for days or weeks. This is not usually very common and is usually a sign of another health problem.
Hiccups, which usually begin for no apparent reason and usually disappear within minutes, can affect people of all ages; in fact, even fetuses can have hiccups and are very common in infants up to six months of age, which is often a concern for first-time parents.
Why are we hiccupping?
The longest recorded case of hiccups lasted 68 years… and was caused by the fall of a pig. While that level of severity is extremely rare, for most of us it’s not, sometimes hiccups. But what causes these hics in the first place? John Cameron takes us into the diaphragm to find out.
Why do we have hiccups?
The diaphragm descends when we inhale to fill the lungs with air and rises when we exhale to facilitate the exit of air from the lungs.
When this mechanism is altered and the diaphragm rises or falls earlier than normal, breathing becomes different, causing hiccups.
Hiccups are usually a transient and benign disorder that lasts only a few minutes and resolves spontaneously, but in exceptional cases they can last for days, weeks, or months, becoming persistent hiccups that need medical attention because they can be caused by gastric, thoracic, metabolic, or neurological disorders, and even be a symptom of diseases such as stomach ulcers, esophagitis, or pancreatitis, among others.
Some possible causes of hiccups are:
- Eat very fast.
- Abusing alcohol.
- Irritation of the diaphragm.
- Stomach upset.
- States of nervousness or excitement.
- Abdominal surgery.
- Eat spicy or spicy foods or liquids.
- Having any disease or disorder that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm.
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux.
- Alterations in blood electrolytes such as lack of calcium, potassium, or sodium.
- Kidney failure, which causes excess urea in the blood.
- Infections such as gastroenteritis or pneumonia.
- Surgeries in the thoracic or abdominal region.
Tips to stop hiccups
There are no specific or scientifically proven measures to stop hiccups, and what some people find effective doesn’t help others at all, but some suggestions you might try are:
- Drink a glass of cold water.
- Sneezing or coughing.
- Hit the back of the head.
- Breathe into a paper bag.
- Bend your knees over your chest.
- Putting sugar under your tongue may also work.
- Drink water by bending your body forward.
- Hold your breath and then exhale slowly, repeating the process several times.
- Take a spoonful of sugar.
- Breathe repeatedly into a paper bag.
- Take a teaspoon of lemon or some vinegar.
- Many of the folk and home remedies that claim to eliminate hiccups cause you to have more CO2 in your bloodstream.
- The Door Trick. Put Your Hands On The Top Of The Door Frame, And Try Hanging From There, The Idea Is To Stretch The Diaphragm. Breathe Deeply and Try Bending You’re Back A Little.
- Get a scare when you find yourself unprepared (although this may not be recommended for some people, and should not be done with children).
- Medications (should only be administered in case of persistent hiccups and under medical prescription).
In the case of babies, experts explain that there are no remedies to stop the hiccups and they have to wait patiently for them to go away spontaneously.
It is considered harmless for young children, but if the child has frequent or very prolonged hiccups (half an hour or more) it is advisable to consult with the pediatrician to rule out any digestive, respiratory or neurological problems.
– Acute: also known as transient hiccups. It’s the one that lasts less than 48 hours.
– Persistent: lasts between 48 hours and one month.
– Intratable: lasts for more than two months.
People who constantly have hiccups can have serious injuries to the nerves of the diaphragm.
What are Chronic Hiccups?
Some people have chronic hiccups. This means that the hiccups last longer than a few days or they may come back.
Chronic hiccups can interfere with sleep, eating, drinking and talking. If you have chronic hiccups, talk to your healthcare provider.
If you have a condition that is causing the hiccups, treatment can help. Otherwise, treatment options include medications, surgery, and other procedures.
Causes of Hiccups in Infants
Hiccups in the baby are very common and may even occur before birth, while still in the mother’s womb. This usually happens because your chest muscles and diaphragm are still developing, so hiccups are not a concern.
However, if the hiccups last more than 1 day or do not allow the baby to sleep or be breastfed, there may be other causes such as infections or inflammations, so it is important to consult your pediatrician for research and guidance on the most appropriate treatment.
Curiosities about hiccups
Hiccups are common in almost all mammals, as the respiratory system is basically similar in all of these animals.
The frequency of hiccups per minute can be very different from case to case, from 2 to 60 per minute. A slightly alarming figure if we have a hiccup per second.
Scientific studies at the Hospital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris have suggested that hiccups could be the consequence of the evolutionary process by which some animals came out of the water and began to live on land. Hiccups would be a consequence of breathing underwater.
Did you know that human fetuses also have hiccups? The hiccups strengthen the diaphragm of the child who is developing and developing it for when he or she needs to breathe.
These contractions are completely normal and begin even in the first trimester of pregnancy. Normally, the mother does not notice it at this stage, but she may notice it later on.
The world’s longest hiccups attack
An American farmer, Charles Osborne, had a hiccups attack that began in 1922 and ended in 1990, that is, it lasted 68 years, a few years later he died.