Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to handle hiccups

How to handle hiccups
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Why they happen and how to make them stop

Hiccups are annoying, and there are plenty of
old wives' tales about how to get rid of them.
But when you've been stuck with them for twenty minutes, you'd rather know
what remedies really work – and how to keep the hiccups at bay next time.
Where do they come from?
Hiccups start when your diaphragm suddenly contracts,
followed by the flap at the top of your windpipe - the glottis -
closing, producing the 'hic' sound.
Mostly, they are caused by eating or drinking too much or too fast,
eating spicy foods, alcohol, sudden excitement or temperature changes.
Some scientists think they harken back to our more amphibious ancestors,
who had to draw water over their gills without it entering the lungs.
This same mechanism lets babies suck milk without inhaling it.
For most people, though, hiccups serve no real purpose.
But if you've wolfed down your dinner, or gasped in surprise,
don't be surprised if hiccups follow.
Any kind of emotional turmoil, be it excitement, anxiety or stress,
has also been known to contribute to short-term hiccups.

Men and women are equally likely to experience them.
Persistent hiccups
Most hiccups go away on their own. If hiccups last longer than 48 hours -
which is rare - they're called persistent or protracted. If they’re still there a month
or more later, your hiccups are known as intractable.
These long-term types, while very rare, are more common in men and might be a sign of
something more serious, such as an affliction of your diaphragm, larynx or eardrum.
Long-term cases can also be brought on by nerve traumas like stroke, tumours or meningitis,
by metabolic disorders or by addictions to alcohol and other drugs.
Eighty per cent of long-term cases have an identifiable cause, while the remaining
twenty per cent are thought to be psychological in nature.
How to get rid of them In the case of your everyday hiccups, you should
expect them to go away on their own within a few minutes.
While there is no guaranteed way to kick a case of hiccups, there are a few easy home remedies
that ought to help. These cures range from holding your breath or breathing into a paper bag
to sipping cold water or gargling with ice water.
You can close your ears while drinking an entire glass of water in one go through a straw.
(If nothing else, onlookers might get a laugh out of this – but researchers have expressed confidence in it.)
If you’re holding your breath and feel a hiccup coming on, swallow around it.
You can also try swallowing with your nose closed.
Eating dry bread or swallowing a teaspoon of sugar might also work.
And to get a little more invasive, try tickling the soft palate in the back of the roof of
your mouth with a cotton ball, or pulling hard on your tongue.
And next time, of course – remember to savour your food, rather than scoffing it!

Why? Tell Me Why!: Hiccups
Hiccups are the most frustrating phenomenon. Why do we get them and why are they so difficult to get rid of?

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