A sudden attack of the noisy spasms can be embarrassing, but there are ways to control it
Hiccups can be embarrassing. Imagine you are in a quiet room. You suddenly have a series of loud hiccups and there's nothing you can do about it.
Hiccups or hiccoughs are sounds made by spasms or contractions of your diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates your chest from your stomach and plays an important role in breathing.
As the muscle contracts repeatedly, you involuntarily suck air into your throat. This shuts the opening of your vocal cords. This sudden closure of the vocal cords causes the unmistakable 'hic' sound of hiccups. Hiccups can last for a few seconds or minutes.
The causes of hiccups
We don't really know why hiccups occur. Sometimes they just happen for no apparent reason.
But there are triggers that can cause pressure on the diaphragm or stomach.
Eating too fast and gulping air down along with your food
Eating hot or spicy foods
Drinking too much alcohol
Sudden changes in temperatures
What to do when you get hiccups
There are lots of home remedies that your friends or grandmother must have told you about. Some of these work by allowing carbon dioxide to build up in the blood.
Our body is more concerned about getting rid of carbon dioxide than making hiccups.
Hold your breath and count up to 20
Drink a glass of water very quickly
Sip ice water
Get someone to frighten you
Pull on your tongue really hard
Put half a teaspoon of sugar on the back of your tongue and repeat every two minutes if necessary
Take long, deep breaths
Breathe into a paper bag
Hold your nose and close your mouth like you would before you jump into a swimming pool
Suck a piece of fresh ginger
Suck on a slice of lemon
Sit down and lean forward over your knees
Put your fingers in your ears but don't stick them in too far!
Get someone to tickle you
Did you know?
Men are more likely to get hiccups than women
Babies in the womb get hiccups
Charles Osborne made it into the Guinness World Records for having had the longest attack of hiccups - 68 years. It was estimated that he had more than 430 million spasms.