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About the Hiccups

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Why do we hic-hic-hiccup? What causes 'em? Here's some general information about hiccups that you might not know.

The Hiccup Down Low

When you hiccup, your diaphragm and nearby muscles convulse, causing you to briefly gulp air. Within 35 milliseconds, the glottis (the opening at the top of the air passage) slams shut, producing that familiar sound of the "hic." Some of us talented people can cure the hiccups right away, but if you hiccup more than seven times you'd better settle in for a bumpy ride. Once started, you'll usually hiccup 63 times or more. Maybe a lot more. Poor Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 69 years!

What Causes Them?

Hiccups are usually a reaction to your stomach and digestive system getting wonky. This happens when you eat too much, drink bubbly drinks like soda, or swallow too much air. Some people get the hiccups for no reason at all. Other things that cause hiccups include skull fracture, epilepsy, tuberculosis and believe it or not, constipation (not being able to poop).

Common Cures for the Hiccups

Unlike sneezing, farting, burping, etc., hiccups don't serve any purpose. They're just annoying and pointless! So how do you get rid of hiccups? Which remedy works best? Home remedies are usually based on the idea that you have to disrupt the hiccup cycle. Remedies include holding your breath, breathing into a bag, pulling your tongue, sudden fright, or - get this - eating sugar. Just drinking water, if done soon enough, might wash down a chunk of food in the throat that's pressing against a nerve.

If these fail, a doctor could prescribe the drug chlorpromazine, tickle the pharynx with a hollow flexible tube through the nose, or use hypnosis or acupuncture. Not doing the trick? You could use extreme measures. In 1833, it was recommended that you blister or burn the skin above the phrenic nerve on the neck and back. Ouch! There are endless sites with the "perfect cure" for hiccups, so the next time you "hic" head over to this site for a cure!

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