Hiccups are caused by involuntary contractions of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. This causes the vocal cords to close quickly, making the sound we all know as "beep."
Gregorio Rafael Benitez Peralta, an internist, clinical gastroenterologist, and professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM, says that hiccups are a "pseudo" reflex arc because they do not meet the "sufficient canons" to be so, unlike vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea, which are defense mechanisms of the body.
In other words, hiccups are a reflex that happens when food goes through the esophagus or stomach and causes the esophagus or stomach to get bigger. This can sometimes irritate nerve endings, which makes the diaphragm contract reflexively, causing the characteristic "jip" to happen 35 thousand milliseconds later.
The causes of hiccups
Because hiccups are caused by irritation of the nerve that controls the diaphragm, something that can cause these involuntary spasms can be several reasons, such as:
Eating too fast or too much, since swallowing air causes distension of the gastric chamber of the stomach.
Having an irritated stomach or throat.
Having diseases that irritate these nerves, such as pneumonia.
However, factors such as being nervous, smoking, drinking alcoholic and carbonated beverages, or even physical activity can cause hiccups.
Types of hiccups and why they occur
The Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM defines that there are four types of hiccups, which are classified according to their duration:
Acute: its duration is less than 48 hours.
Persistent: its duration is longer than 48 hours and less than one month; it usually affects one individual out of every one hundred thousand.
Intractable: if it continues for two months or more.
Unstable: it is only sudden.
How to get rid of hiccups? The only scientifically proven remedy
Some remedies to remove hiccups can be:
Drinking cold water
Drinking water with vinegar
Sucking on a lemon.
There are many ways to stop hiccups, but only one is scientifically proven to work: holding your breath over and over again. This is because holding your breath increases carbon dioxide, which increases the amount of gas in the thorax and the intra-thoracic pressure.