What are hiccups and what are the causes of them?
A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm muscle.
The sound is created by the vocal cords snapping shut as a reflex to the muscle spasm.
The hilarious sound is caused by a number of factors, but they are usually quite random and do not last very long.
You should not worry about hiccups unless it is obviously a medical emergency.
But if they last longer than a few hours and are disrupting your daily life, such as affecting your eating or sleeping habits, you should visit your GP.
How to get rid of hiccups
There are a number of things you can do to get rid of persistent hiccups, most of which do not require any special remedies or include things you already have in the cupboard.
Many people swear by the following methods, but they’re to be taken with a grain of salt as there is no medical evidence proving they work for everyone.
This helps to compress the chest and place gentle pressure on your diaphragm, hopefully restricting and then stopping the contractions.
Drink a glass of water (and try it upside down)
This is mainly a distraction technique which gets your mind off the hiccuping.
Ice water is also meant to help, as is drinking the water whilst you are upside down.
Although this is not a medical recommendation, it is likely this works due to it requiring some concentration.
Hold your breath
Everyone knows this one, try holding your breath for as long as reasonably possible, breathing heavily in and out each time, and repeat this process.
Biting on something bitter like lemon targets the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach.
This sends signals to the brain, telling it to switch its focus from hiccups to the sharp taste instead.
This tip also works if you use vinegar or anything as strong-tasting.
Avoid certain foods and drinks
According to the NHS, spicy food, carbonated drinks, chewing gum and alcoholic beverages are all huge triggers for hiccups, so if your hiccups are bothering you, consider giving this food the boot.
Give up smoking
Smoking could also be a reason behind your hiccuping, so you should consider quitting.