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How to Cure Hiccups

Subject: Science

Description: What are hiccups, what causes them and how to stop hiccups?

Posted by David Caldwell on 01/12/13 at 16:20

How to Stop Hiccups

One cure I have found to work for me is to drink a large glass of water in ten rapid gulps without pausing for breath.

cure hiccups graphic

Hiccups are annoying but everyone gets them from time to time, once hiccups start they happen at precise regular intervals and can be very difficult to stop. The world’s longest bout of hiccups lasted for 68 years.

Hiccups can cause insomnia, social embarrassment and left untreated usually resolve themselves after a few minutes to a couple of hours. If you suffer for more than 48 hours you should really seek medical advice.

There are many traditional cures that range from the sublime to the ridiculous, I have listed these below.

What are Hiccups?

Hiccups or synchronous diaphragmatic flutter/ singultus to give them their medical term are caused by an involuntary contraction of the lungs diaphragm, which causes an intake of air forcing the glottis to contract around the vocal chords. This makes the characteristic ‘hic’ sound much loved by cartoon drunks the world over.  Science has yet to explain the reason for hiccups, but they are likely to have served some purpose in a common ancestor.

One interesting theory is that hiccups are caused by our brain stem firing off electrical signals to our diaphragm this is seen in amphibian biology and is used to regulate the movement of the gills while breathing.  

We have inherited this attribute from a common ancestor but it no longer serves any purpose to a land living and air breathing ape.

What Causes Hiccups?

People used to blame elves for causing hiccups, I still do.

Causes can include sudden changes in temperature, spicy food, fizzy drinks, eating bread, alcohol and those pesky elves.

Traditional Hiccup Cures

• Having a Scare – Scare somebody and it is believed this will stop them hiccupping, where did I leave that Leather face mask?
• Holding your breath -
• Drinking from the wrong side of a glass – effectively drinking upside down.
• Burping – One for the uncouth.
• Putting a slice of lemon under your tongue – handy if you have a gin and tonic to hand.
• Sucking a spoonful of sugar.
• Breathing rapidly into a brown paper bag.

Do you know any cures for hiccups not listed above?  Please share them by leaving a comment.

Keywords: cure, hiccups, hiccup, stop, what causes hiccups