The Hiccups Explained


You’re sitting at your dining table after a really satisfying meal when all of a sudden *hiccup*. At work, sitting in silence, everyone bustling and working hard; the silence breaks with a loud and glorious *hiccup*. You’ve gone to a wine bar with friends, you’re there relaxing and are not sure if you’ve had a glass too many; not to worry, as soon as your body jumps and the *hiccup* follows, you know it’s your queue to say goodbye to the bottle and have some water instead.

Why do we get the hiccups?

Funnily enough, there is no exact scientific reason to explain why we get the hiccups. Many theories say that it is a primitive reflex whose function got lost in evolution, much like the appendix. It occurs due to the diaphragm (muscle under your lung) suddenly pulling down, leading to you gulping a big amount of air. Once the air hits your voice box, the vocal chords suddenly close and create the funny sound.

Although there is no known reason for it, we do have some ways of detecting when we can expect them. Sudden excitement is one; overeating and excessive alcohol consumption are a little more common.

Can we Cure them?

Given that we have not even discovered a scientific reason for them, we do not have a cure. Having said that, a lot of old wives’ tales give a lot of suggestions as to what you can do to stop yourself from hiccupping.

  • You can hold your breath and sip icy cold water
  • You can try swallowing granulated sugar
  • Bite on a lemon or taste some vinegar
  • Pull your knees to your chest
  • Gargle very cold water
  • Breathe into a paper bag

These solutions might not have a direct association with the hiccups, but hey! They work, so who is complaining?

Continuous Hiccups

Hiccups come in bouts, so after seven hiccups or so, you should be done with the sudden jolting and funny noises. If hiccups persist for more than 48 hours, you should consult a doctor. Although rare, chronic hiccups are a thing, so watch out!

© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Thea Formosa