Hiccups, as sudden and involuntary as uncomfortable, can be more than a temporary discomfort. And the constant hiccups, although it adjectival as unimportant symptom that usually lasts little, can also be persistent and sign that something is wrong in our body. Why constant hiccup occurs? When should consult the doctor? These are some of the questions that are best answer for how to act in an episode of hiccups.
Constant hiccups, as is the case with other disorders such as night cramps, slight dizziness or a tremor of eyelids, symptoms generally considered unimportant, because the truth is not usually be serious, but sometimes should be consulted. And one of these occasions is when the hiccups appear consistent or persistent. Before proceeding, it should answer a question.
What is the hiccups? Why it occurs?
Hiccups are caused by irritation of the diaphragm – the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, usually due to dilatation of the stomach by eating or drinking too much and too fast, by taking too spicy food, or a sudden change of temperature, both food and body temperature itself. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages and drinks sodas and smoking too much and even excitement and laugh heartily, may result in an episode of hiccups. Not to mention the emotional stress, which experts also among the long list of causes that can trigger the onset of hiccups. When the diaphragm contracts, quickly closes the glottis and our throat emits the characteristic sound of hiccups.
As we have noted, hiccups usually an uncomfortable but temporary condition. In most cases, disappears as came so spontaneously within a few minutes to appear. If not disappear soon, among tricks or remedies to remove is the rapidly swallowing a teaspoon of dry granulated white sugar. Other common remedies are holding your breath, drink a glass of cold water, eat a piece of toast or dry bread, put yourself in a fetal position, expel the air in a bag or inspire quickly.
Hiccup: When to worry?
If hiccups do not go away and lasts for hours, even days (chronic hiccups), may be due to serious illness, such as an injury or infection of the nervous system; irritation of the diaphragm by a tumor or inflammation, metabolic disorders or infections as well as processes located in ear, nose, chest or abdomen. In these cases, consult your doctor to ascertain what the real cause which causes hiccups and manage the most appropriate drug treatment.
When hiccups ceases to be anecdotal and cannot just be a symptom of some pathology, but it affects significantly the quality of life of who suffers it, as it can cause sleep problems, weight loss, tiredness, anxiety and increased irritability or, in the worst of situations, atrioventricular block.
Diseases that could hide in a persistent hiccup
- Disorders of the central nervous system such as: encephalitis, meningitis, abscesses.
- Conditions in the metabolism such as: low level of calcium in the blood.
- Renal insufficiency.
- Stomach ulcer.
- Vascular disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Myocardial infarction.
Another cause that is common and can cause hiccups that can last between 48 hours and a month is suffering from gastroesophageal reflux.
Exercises for hiccup
Given the characteristics of hiccups, it can be finished by three main exercises (and, on occasion, we will have to alternate them all)
1. Breathing exercises
Although we know what causes hiccups (contraction of the diaphragm), its underlying cause is not clear. According to some scientists, this reflex is due to a drop in carbon dioxide in the blood, something that can be solved with various breathing exercises.
Sometimes, you can eliminate the hiccups by holding your breath for a while, in others you just have to try to lower the rhythm of it: for that you can help yourself with a paper bag (but do not drown).
2. Diaphragm exercises
Since it is this muscle that unties the hiccups, it is logical that we can intervene on it to leave us alone. There are several exercises to calm the diaphragm. You can lie on the floor and bring your knees to your chest, keeping you in this position for a couple of minutes. You can also bend forward and try to touch your feet with your hands, which will compress the relief of chest, hopefully, the spasm. There is also a breathing exercise that serves to press the diaphragm: take a deep breath to reach the space under your ribs and squeeze the muscle until it calms down.
Another method, much more radical, is to receive a strong blow on the diaphragm itself. This will cause you to cut your breath for a while, but the hiccup will disappear for sure. Now, the remedy can be worse than the disease: if the one who gives you the blow does not hit, or passes, it can break a rib. So better try something else.
3. Distraction exercises
Sometimes, the only thing we achieve by trying hundreds of methods to end it is to make the situation worse because, as we explained before, anxiety is one of its main triggers. If you forget about hiccups, it probably disappears by itself. The famous method of shock to end hiccups is based on this premise: if there is something that catches your attention, your body goes on alert and the diaphragm relaxes.
There are several alternative methods to fright, such as eating a slice of lemon or taking a spoonful of sugar and keeping it in your mouth until it falls apart. The important thing is that stop thinking about hiccups.
Best method to end hiccups
Although these methods can work, the truth is that they are not definitive. They work for some people, and not for others. But there is another strategy that, according to the British Medical Journal, Dr. Rhys H. Thomas, a pediatrician at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, is a “miraculous method” to end hiccups.
The technique consists of filling a glass of water, plugging your ears and swallowing little by little, but without pause, all the liquid. Thomas explains that it is enough to drink between 20 and 30 milliliters of water. Some people help themselves with a straw, although he says it is not necessary. The important thing is to keep the ears plugged until all the liquid is drunk.
Why does this method work? Most hiccup cures are based on interrupting the irritation of the phrenic nerve or the vagus nerve, which are part of the reflex arc. Increase the intrathoracic pressure is enough to end the spasms, and it is not necessary to go crazy to achieve it. Thomas cites other alternative methods on which studies have been done, such as undergoing a rectal massage or having sex until reaching orgasm, but drinking a glass of water seems much easier.