Topic 19: How come we get hiccups?

It all starts with your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that is at the bottom of your chest. Your diaphragm goes tight when you breath in and it pushes the air down into you lungs and relaxes to let the air back out when you exhale. But sometime the diaphragm becomes irritated and will jerk down suddenly causing you to breath in air quickly. The air then rushes past your vocal cords, your vocal cords close suddenly and you are left with a hiccup.

Irritation of the diaphragm normally occurs when you eat to fast, irritation of the throat or stomach, feeling nervous, feeling excited, coughing lots, eating spicy foods or dry breads, sudden change in temperature, allergies, and dry throats. Hiccups normally only last for a few minutes. On rare occasions can last for days, weeks or months, but this is normally a symptom of a medical problem.

There are lots of ways to get rid of hiccups including: drinking water, putting sugar under your tongue, someone jumping out and scaring you, eating something sour or sweet, drinking water through a straw, eating salt, tickling, exercising and coughing.

Here are a few facts you probably didn’t know about hiccups:

Unborn babies can get hiccups to. Unborn babies get hiccups to strengthen the diaphragm and to get ready for when they will have to breath on their own.

On average you will hiccup 63 times before you stop. This is because the Glottis takes 35 milliseconds to close off the windpipe causing the common “hic” noise.

The longest hiccup record goes to a pig farmer. His name was Charles Osborne from Anton, Iowa, he started to hiccup in 1922 and didnt stop until 1990. Which is 69 years. He married twice and fathered eight children.

In India if you hiccup they believe that someone in your family is talking about you.

One of the first known “cures”: “Hold your breath, and if after you have done so for some time the hiccup is no better, then gargle with a little water, and if it still continues, tickle your nose with something and sneeze, and if you sneeze once or twice, even the most violent hiccup is sure to go.” – Eriximachus, the physician to Aristophanes, in Plato’s Symposium


“I’ve always been fascinated by the human body, but you can become quite morbid and paranoid if you think too much.”- Ellie Goulding 


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