Why Do People Hiccup?

Have you ever experienced talking to your friend, then *hic*, you’ve got hiccups. I find them quite distracting, even annoying at times. When you are in the middle of something and you just can’t stop making that “hic” sound over and over again, who wouldn’t be bothered by that? Hiccups, or as some people call, hiccoughs, come so suddenly and last for quite some time. Some even have records of having hiccups for years before they stop, like Charles Osborne who claimed to have hiccups for around 68 years. He now holds a Guinness World Record for the longest bout of hiccups. Some have hiccups only for a few minutes. As suddenly as hiccups come, they’re gone. So why do people hiccup?

Hiccups, called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) in medicine, are the contractions in the diaphragm (a muscular sheet that borders the abdominal cavity and the thoracic cavity) or spasms repeated severally over time. The diaphragm aids in the breathing. It pulls the lungs to allow air to come in when we breathe. The involuntary contractions of the diaphragm lead to the abrupt flow of air into the lungs. This results to the closure of the epiglottis over the windpipe, thus, producing the “hic” sound.

Then why do people get hiccups? How to get rid of thiccups?Many conditions are attributed to cause hiccups, some of which are overeating, eating too fast, anxiety and excitement. When you overeat, eat too fast or drink too many carbonated drinks, the air bubbles bump against the diaphragm. This causes the spasms in the diaphragm. These are the most frequent causes of hiccups. The same thing goes for drinking too much.

The image of an old cartoon plays in my mind with an old drunk man singing loudly down an alley, then *hic*, he’s got hiccups. I have always wondered, why do people hiccup when drunk? Apparently, when people get drunk, they tend to drink too fast or they end up gulping air when they drink. Similar to eating too fast, the air bubbles in the stomach bump onto the diaphragm leading to the spasms or involuntary contractions. Then they result to the epiglottis covering the windpipe which also, produces the “hic” sound.

Hiccups that last for weeks or more are called persistent or intractable hiccups. These hiccups are said to be caused by irritations or damages in the nervous system. Some intractable hiccups are caused by cancer, surgery, infections, and psychological problems. These irritations or damages cause the nervous system to send signals to the body. This results to the spasms in the diaphragm. These hiccups should be consulted to a physician as soon as possible.

So for those who do not like hiccupping while conversing with someone or just really don’t like hiccups, keep in mind, to eat properly and not drink too much.

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