Hiccups refer to the sudden spasms of the diaphragm, the muscle present at the base of the lungs that separates the chest and abdomen. These spasms result in the closure of the vocal cords, which produces the characteristic ‘hic’ sound of hiccups. Fortunately these bothersome contractions are not very serious.
The actual cause of hiccups is still unknown. It is found to be associated with a number of health issues. There are no absolute ways to control the occurrence of these contractions. Yet, a number of remedies have been suggested to alleviate the symptoms.
A number of ways have been tried to control these hiccups:
- Try holding your breath for few seconds and then release it. Repeat the same four or five times. This helps to build up carbon dioxide, which stops the contraction.
- Sip cold water.
- Quickly drink a glass of water. As you drink water, the rhythmic contractions of the esophagus reduce the spasms in the diaphragm that cause hiccups.
- Eat a teaspoon of sugar.
- Press the areas behind the ear for a few seconds. This is supposed to relax the nerves that initiates the sudden contraction of the diaphragm
- Try sticking out your tongue so as to open up the vocal cords. As this happens breathing also becomes slow alleviating the spasms of the muscle.
- Cover your mouth and nose by cupping your hands. This also helps to build up carbon dioxide, which will reduce the contractions.
- Sip a drink while plugging your ears. Here you are combining two different techniques – pressing the nerve so as to relax it and also drinking to override the spasms.
If hiccups persist for a long time, it is better to get medical advice. This is particularly important if the person has other symptoms, like sudden weight loss, insomnia, and lack of appetite. Muscle relaxants, antipsychotic medications, drugs for neuropathic pain, and medication for the treatment of nausea are all found to be useful for treating chronic hiccups.