Hiccups have been intruders in the most silent and the noisiest times of our lives. Age no bar, these tiny sound pops makes one feel restless and uncomfortable. They are not regular and timely visitors. Most of us get hiccups very rarely, and unexpectedly. There is little known by most of us on the exact reason for getting hiccups. Myths apart, hiccups are not a serious medical issue.
For those who get them more frequently, it is most possibly not any disorder that should make you worry. However, it is wise to know the exact reason, and get it treated, in case the occurrence is very frequent. We all know hiccups are short, edgy sounds with a little discomfort like feeling in the neck region. They can be defined as a reflex in the body that cannot be controlled. It happens because the diaphragm, which is the muscle that helps breathing, situated under the lungs, suddenly contracts.
Now due to this sudden contraction, the top opening of your wind pipe closes in a jiffy as soon as the diaphragm contracts, this is when the typical 'hic' sound is produced, and you start getting hiccups. This sound is typically produced due to the irritation of the diaphragm muscles. Even if these sounds are termed as reflexes, they don't really serve any purpose to the body, like other reflexes, for example cold, cough and sneezing. Science has many possible reasons for reflexes, there is literally a list of disorders, both medical and physiological.
Acid Reflux and Hiccups
Some of the common reasons for temporary and short lived hiccups, that set off suddenly with leaving you clueless are:
- Eating too fast or too slow while swallowing air, or having fizzy drinks, are known to cause short bouts of hiccups.
- Alcohol, smoking, sudden exposure to extreme temperatures (that is caused even by eating extreme hot and cold food, or with room temperatures and showers too) can cause hiccups for a short while.
- Sudden hyper excitement or stress and emotional trauma too causes hiccups.
In other causes of constant hiccups we have a list that comprises all the diseases and disorders that control the diaphragm. Acid reflux is one disorder that also causes irritation and affects the diaphragm. It is also defined as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid regurgitation, but is commonly referred to as acid reflux. In this condition, the food and acid in the stomach flow back (reflux) in the food pipe (esophagus).
In most of the studies conducted, it was found that a hiccup is atypical symptom of GERD. So it can also be concluded that acid reflux can cause prolonged hiccups. It is the most common condition that causes hiccups. According to a survey conducted, most of the patients with constant hiccups when examined, showed signs of acid reflux. When treated with acid reflux medicines, they also got relief from constant hiccups. Research has found out that hiccups precede acid reflux, while some case studies have also shown that hiccups start after acid reflux.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups
The treatment includes simple home remedies. Most of the short bouts of hiccups will fade away in a few minutes. Many follow techniques like frightening or scaring the person who has hiccups. It is believed that the exhilaration process helps the swallowed air out, hence stopping hiccups. One can have a glass of warm water at one go to stop the hiccups. Eating sugar and citrus fruits like orange and lime also helps.
Inhaling certain oils like basil, sandalwood and tarragon are helpful. Smelling certain salts too helps stop hiccups. Holding your breath for a while also helps in treating hiccups. In case of acid reflux, antacids or medicines prescribed by the doctor will help. For more complicated conditions, where the hiccups are due to a specific disease or disorder, medical treatment is required.
Hiccups are a part of the bodily reflexes, it sometimes get worrisome and stressful. But if the longest record of hiccups can be a healthy 69 years, a little minute or two of hiccups sure can be laughed off!