What Are Hiccups?

Imagine this…you are sitting on your couch, minding your own business. You just polished off a tasty TV dinner while watching an episode of Game of Thrones, when suddenly your diaphragm starts to spasm. This spasm forces you to gasp for a deep breath, only to have that breath suddenly stopped by the closure of your glottis. Now out of nowhere your body starts making involuntary sounds.

Sounds awful, right?? Should this person call 911?

What if I told you that the person should not call 911 and that what just took place happens all the time.

The above scenario is what happens in our body when we get the hiccups.

Hiccups, while uncomfortable, are not really as terrifying as the description WebMD uses to explain them.

After a lengthy bout with hiccups recently, I decided to look them up. What I found is covered in today’s Wonder Why Wednesday

What Are Hiccups?

As I outlined earlier, hiccups occur when a spasm contracts the diaphragm. This spasm causes an intake in breath that is suddenly stopped by the closure of the vocal chords, or glottis. This closure sound causes the characteristic “hiccup” sound.

Here’s some more interesting info on hiccups:

What Causes Hiccups?

  • Eating too much food too quickly.
  • Drinking too much alcohol.
  • Swallowing too much air.
  • Smoking.
  • A sudden change in stomach temperature, such as drinking a hot beverage and then a cold beverage.
  • Emotional stress or excitement.

How Long Do Hiccups Last?

  • Hiccups usually stop within a few minutes to a few hours.
  • Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups.
  • Hiccups that last longer than a month are called intractable hiccups.

Wait what, hiccups can last a month?? If I had to pick a month to have hiccups, I’d pick February.

How Are Hiccups Treated?

  • Hold your breath and counting slowly to 10.
  • Breath repeatedly into a paper bag for a limited period of time.
  • Quickly drinking a glass of cold water.
  • Eat a teaspoon of sugar or honey.

Other fun fact about hiccups are that they can cause weight loss and men more more often affected by hiccups than women. I am surprised we have not seen a weight loss fad called the Hiccup Diet. Since men are more susceptible to the pain of hiccups, I think this evens things out for women having to endure childbirth. Okay, maybe not.



Photo credit: Remedy Universe


  • http://thuringer.me/ Aaron Thuringer

    A spoonful of peanut butter works wonders for me