Most of us have suffered a bout of hiccups at one time or another. Though hiccups aren’t quite serious or harmful, it definitely is a nasty experience suffering hiccups. The continuous sounds one lets out and the throat movements as a result of hiccups can ruin a good day or even interfere with your sleep at night. Hiccups are involun-tarily contractions of the diaphragm. When each contraction takes place, the vocal cord closes and this produces the sound that characterises hiccups.
What causes hiccups?
Hiccups occur mostly due to reasons like eating too quickly, alcohol intake, smoking, and having a bloated stomach among others. Long-lasting hiccups can however be as a result of underlying medical conditions such as gastrointestinal conditions, res-piratory problems and problems with metabolism.
Longer bouts of hiccups can take upto 48 hours or more.
How to get rid of hiccups
Most hiccups usually resolve on their own after a short while, they therefore don’t need redress. However, if hiccups are increasingly becoming a nuisance to you and you need to get rid of them, there are a number of practical ways you can employ. These are as described below:
Breathing in and holding your breath
In order to get rid of hiccups, breathe in and then hold your breath for about 10 sec-onds. Following this, breathe out very slowly and then repeat the process of breath-ing in and holding your breath about four times. Rest for a while and then resume the same process later.
Holding your breath for a while helps to create a buildup of carbon dioxide inside the lungs. This in turn helps the diaphragm to relax.
Relaxing the vagus nerve
The vagus nerve connects to the diaphragm and when it receives a relaxing signal, the diaphragm gets to relax. In order to relax the vagus nerve, press the soft areas behind your earlobes with your fingers. These are the areas just below the base of the skull. Also, place your fingers inside your ears for about 20 seconds. These ac-tions help in sending a relaxing signal to the vagus nerve and the diaphragm in turn gets to relax, thereby stopping or lessening the hiccups.
Sticking out your tongue
When you are not out in public, you can try sticking out your tongue to help you get rid of hiccups. Removing your tongue out of your mouth helps to keep your vo-cal cords open. It stimulates the glottis. This helps to stop the sound which is pro-duced during hiccups.
Drinking or sipping something helps in managing hiccups. You should try sipping water or any other suitable drink in a row. Take about 10 sips of a drink in a row. As you swallow the sips, your oesophagus will contract rhythmically. These rhyth-mic contractions of the oesophagus help to counter spasms of the diaphragm.
You can also try drinking water from a glass over which a paper towel has been placed. This will encourage you to pull even harder thereby raising your diaphragm up. The upward movement of the diaphragm together with the contractions of the oesophagus as a result of swallowing help to counter the diaphragm contractions.
Peanut butter and ice cream
Peanut butter and ice cream can be effective in clearing hiccups. They get to be a good treat as well can therefore be a suitable remedy for kids with hiccups. Take a teaspoon of these in a row. Swallowing them helps to stop the contractions.
Prevention and treatment
Try to avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks. Lastly, doctors can prescribe medicine for more serious cases of hiccups.