Hic! Almost everyone has heard and also involuntary given out this unique yet unmistakable sound sometime in our lives. This uncomfortable experience sometimes causes us or others around us to become annoyed. It may sometimes also cause us to giggle or to be slightly embarrassed depending on where we might be at the time. But have you ever wonder what causes hiccup? I am sure this has crossed your mind sometime in your life. So, lets take a closer look at this usually short-lived uncomfortable experience called hiccup.
In order to fully understand hiccup you will need to have a basic knowledge and understanding of the human diaphragm. So lets take a quick look at what is the diaphragm and its function. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped respiratory muscle, located just below the lungs, separating the chest cavity from the abdomen. Its function is to aid in breathing. When the diaphragm contracts (moving down) the lungs expand causing air to enter. This process is called inhale. Conversely, when the diaphragm relaxes (moving up) the lungs contracts sending air out of the lungs. This process is called exhale.
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So what does this have to do with us having hiccups? Well, hiccup is an uncontrolled spasm in the diaphragm or in other words, a sudden involuntary jerks (contractions) in diaphragm muscle which causes your lungs to quickly draw (suck) in air. As a result of this sudden gush of air flow into the lungs, this causes the glottis (the flap that is located at the top of your windpipe) to abruptly snap shut. Consequently, then comes the characteristic sound: Hic!
Now, to answer the question “what causes hiccup?”. Hiccups are usually triggered by the stimulation of special nerves found in the upper part of our stomach and/or lower part of our esophagus. The vagus nerve which runs from the brain to the abdomen and/or the phrenic nerves that supply the diaphragm usually become irritated. This irritation usually comes from the stomach and digestive system. When this happens the brain sends a response (message) to the diaphragm muscles (effectors) that causes the uncontrolled spasm - hiccup. While there may be many conditions that are associated with the causes of hiccup, experts are still unable or find it difficult to explain hiccups that happen for no obvious reason. Nevertheless, lets look at a few of the different conditions that are associated with the cause of hiccups.
Drinking too much alcohol.
Drinking too much carbonated beverages such as sodas.
Drinking carbonated beverages while eating.
Common Cures for the Hiccups
There are many common remedies that claim to cure hiccups. A few of them are listed below. Some of them might seem quite weird but, I guess they must have worked for some people. If you should have an hiccup you may try any of the following given below, it might just work.
And many more.
Hiccups usually go away within minutes but in some rare cases they can persist for hours, days weeks, months and even years!! If it not going away then there is need to see a doctor. A hiccup for more than two days are called persistent or protracted hiccups while if it is more than a month it is called intractable hiccups. There is a case where someone by the name Charles Osborne had it for 69years!! Hiccups over a long time span usually have to do with complication of the brain, spinal cord, diaphragm and its surrounding structures. Prolong (intractable) hiccup can induce depression, sleep deprivation and weight loss .
The causes and purpose of hiccup is not fully known however, the body is always protecting itself from injury or harm so the reflex action that causes hiccup is the body ways of dealing with signals that say something is not quite right. Also, the cause of most hiccups remains a puzzle. Nevertheless, it seems that any condition that causes the irritation of the throat and diaphragm including anything that place pressure on its nerve or around the diaphragm structure can cause hiccups.
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