Hiccups are involuntary sudden sounds made by spasms of the diaphragm muscles. The diaphragm, a large sheet of muscle suspended beneath the lungs, helps us to breathe. The muscular contraction of these muscles sucks air into the lungs, and the quick inhalation makes the epiglottis crash shut. The epiglottis is a flap of tissue that closes over the windpipe during swallowing to prevent the inhalation of food, fluids or saliva to the windpipe. This sharp closure of the epiglottis causes the characteristic ‘hic’ sound of hiccups. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups. They are usually harmless and resolve by themselves after a few minutes.
Prolonged hiccups that last for days or weeks may indicate a disorder. Although associated with a variety of ailments such as pneumonia,hiccups can also be caused due to presence of unwanted substances formed in the blood due to kidney malfunction.
Effects on body
- Eating too much food too quickly and eating spicy food.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
- Smoking or swallowing too much air at a time.
- Children feeling hungry take feed hurriedly start hiccupping. Sometimes it is an indication of good digestion and gradual growth of diaphragm.
- A sudden change in stomach temperature,such as drinking a hot beverage and then a cold beverage can cause hiccups.
- Emotional stress or excitement may initiate hiccups.
- Hiccups are sometimes thought to be a reflex to protect a person from choking.
- A baby may hiccup after crying or coughing. This is common in babies in the first year.
- Hiccups prolonged may be due to strokes, brain tumors and some chronic medical disorders(such as renal failure), Oeso-phagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus), An overactive thyroid gland, Pleurisy (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs), Pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), kidney disease, brain damage ,such as stroke or tumor that affects the area of the brain which controls the diaphragm,abdominal surgery,chest surgery,certain epilepsy medications.
- Some medicines may have side effects of hiccupping.
The hiccups will usually stop by themselves but there are many remedies to stop hiccups. We can apply these methods to get rid of hiccups :
- Hold your breath for some time.
- Drink a glass of water speedily.
- Place one-half teaspoon of dry sugar on the back of the tongue(Repeat this process 3 times at 2-minute intervals)
- Swallowing a table spoon full of honey.
- Certain body points may be pressed to stop hiccups. One quick cure for the hiccups is to press the point beneath the ear lobes while taking several slow deep breaths . Second is by pressing and rotating your index horizontally directly below your nose. Thirdly pressing in the middle of the shoulders. Lastly at the base of the throat in between the collar bones. Press these areas daily for a few days regularly if the hiccups continue.
- Warning : Pressing points should be avoided by pregnant and heart patients. Don’t press or massage sores ,cuts or scratches. Allow at least an hour before or after eating.
- Taad aasana, Triak tad asana, Surya namaskar, trikon asana, dhanur asana should be performed regularly, if hiccups are frequent.
- Kapal bhati, Agnisar and Palavni Pranayam are helpful to check hiccups.
- Vaayu mudra, if performed for sixteen minutes can help.
- If hiccups is a chronic problem , Shankh Prakshalan should be performed once a month for at least three months