A hiccup also known as singultus is an involuntary movement (contraction) of the diaphragm, the dome shaped muscle situated between the lungs and the stomach. The spasm of the diaphragm is followed by quick closing of the vocal cords, which produces a distinctive “hic” sound.
Hiccups usually occur for no obvious reason and often disappear after few minutes. However, hiccups can last for long period of time in rare cases. Hiccups are common and normal in newborns and infants.
Hiccups occur when there is a disturbance in the nerve pathways from the brain to the diaphragm. This explains why hiccups may occur during emotional situations and temperature changes. Furthermore, they can also occur when you swallow too much air, eat too fast or too much, experience excitement or anxiety.
Other causes may be hot and spicy foods or liquids, harmful fumes, stroke or tumor affecting the brain and disease or disorder that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm, such as, pleurisy or pneumonia.
If you have persistent hiccups that do not go away easily and last for several days or more, see your healthcare provider. It may indicate problems in the brain, spinal cord or any of the structures around the diaphragm or chest wall.
Home remedies for hiccups
There is no obvious way to stop hiccups. Everyone has their own way to stop it. However, there are a number of common suggestions that may be useful.
Simply holding your breathe is often effective.
Breathing repeatedly into a paper bag. This increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the lungs, relaxing the diaphragm and halting the spasms.
Drinking a glass of cold water.
Eating a teaspoon of sugar.
Bringing the knees to the chest and hugging them for 2 minutes