For a fraction of a second, your body acts as if it were inhaling. The diaphragm and respiratory muscles contract, the ribs widen. But then it happens: The absorbed breath bounces with a loud hiccup on the closed glottis. And not just once, but again and again. You have a hiccup.
Causes of hiccups
Possible triggers for irresistible hiccups can be:
- very cold or hot food and drinks
- over-abundant meals
- hasty eating, drinking or smoking
- strong nervousness or excitement
- rarely side effects of various diseases such as inflammatory reactions in the stomach or esophagus
Strong temperature fluctuations irritate the stomach and the diaphragm. Therefore, allow ice cream and iced drinks to thaw slightly before eating. Meals from the microwave, soups and hot drinks, on the other hand, should let you cool off a bit. Who eats or drinks in a hurry, often swallows a lot of air at the same time. An overburdened stomach presses on the diaphragm.
Instead of three lush ones, take five to six smaller meals a day. Drink without haste and eat slowly, chewing each bite carefully. This not only protects against hiccups, but also serves culinary enjoyment.
Home remedies for hiccups
Normally a hiccup passes as soon as the diaphragm calms down. To shorten the time, many fall back on one of the countless home remedies for hiccups:
- breathe in a paper bag to increase the carbon dioxide level in the blood
- drinking a glass of water while standing upside down
- Stop the air and swallow the moment you feel the hiccup (repeat several times)
- Hold the ears with both thumbs, simultaneously press the nostrils together with the little fingers and inflate the cheeks with closed lips
- leaning forward while sitting down or putting on your knees puts pressure on your chest
- Drink vinegar or eat sugar
The home remedies are usually based on the same principle: They are a part of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic irritate. The nerves report that to the hiccup center in the brain and the hiccups stop. Proved is the success of these tricks not an attempt, they are usually worth the tormented.
If the hiccup lasts for more than a day or keeps returning, you should see a doctor. Non-stop hiccups can indicate serious illnesses that require treatment. In addition, it can lead to an oxygen deficiency. Chronic hiccups are a very rare disease affecting 99.9 percent of men.
Origin and meaning of hiccups
For a long time scientists puzzled over the biological meaning of hiccups. Researchers from Paris now suspect that the hiccup is a remnant of gill breathing. Lung fish, for example, which simultaneously have lungs and gills, inject water through their gills by squeezing their oral cavities. They close their glottis so that no water can enter the lungs.
Obviously, the part of the brain that is responsible for the movements of gill respiration has been preserved for millions of years and also controls the glottis in humans. But why has the seemingly useless hiccup been preserved? It is believed that it helps babies to suck. The sequence of muscle movements in hiccups is similar to that of infants breastfeeding. This closes the glottis of the baby so that no milk gets into the lungs.