Hiccups or hitchkis are not uncommon to us. All of us would have gotten it at some point in time. For some people, though, it crops up at the most inopportune times. Often, what most people do is drink water to try and resolve the issue. We have had a Bollywood movie, Hitchki, in which Rani Mukherjee plays a teacher who gets hitchkis due to Tourette Syndrome. For some people, the problem is not as severe. However, if you find hiccup as an issue, here is a rundown of what it is and what you can do.
What are Hiccups?
Hiccups are involuntary contractions of our diaphragm that results in us making a strange sound through our mouth, which is noticeable to people around us. The vocal cords close up when the diaphragm muscles contract, and that’s what creates the sound.
There’s no telling what triggers them. Sometimes, it is a large and spicy meal. Even aerated or soft drinks can trigger hiccups in a few cases. Stress and exposure to sudden temperature changes also trigger hiccups in a few people. We are referring to the regular hiccups here. It most often resolves in a while. Possibly, it can trouble you for a brief period despite your attempts to stop it. Even then, it is only rarely that people have hiccups lasting more than a few minutes. But, in some rare cases, hiccups can continue to occur regularly and last longer. These could be due to underlying reasons such as nerve damage, central nervous system disorder, metabolic disorder, or even some prescription medication. Such hiccup need medical attention. Hence, in such cases, doctor consultation is a must.
How can you Stop the Hiccups?
Sometimes, a change of posture to relax the diaphragm can stop the hiccups. You could also try some slow breathing techniques to relax the mind and body, and that aids in getting rid of the hiccups. This technique helps because the respiratory system gets disrupted through slow breathing to resolve muscle spasms. Holding the breath for a few seconds after a deep inhalation also helps resolve hiccups. You could also try breathing into a paper bag or drinking water slowly. You could try drinking ice or warm water to see which resolves the hiccups. One of the sweetest home remedies for hiccup is to eat a spoonful of sugar! Keep the sugar in your mouth for a few minutes, and then swallow it. This technique helps because it stimulates your throat and relaxes your vocal cords. Some people say gargling helps, while others suggest sucking on a lemon.
Here is an interesting Indian Ayurvedic remedy. Take a spoonful of black pepper powder and inhale it. Since this action is likely to induce a sneeze, the sneeze can counter the hiccups! You could also try chewing on a small piece of ginger and swallowing the juice. For kids, you could try offering sweetened curds. Ideally, relax and use any distraction technique rather than obsess over it, and the hiccup should go on their own.
When to see a Doctor?
If the hiccup last more than 48 hours, or if they disrupt your regular life and sleep, then you should see a doctor. Hiccups may be due to underlying conditions such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stroke or multiple sclerosis, etc. The doctor may prescribe laboratory, imaging, or endoscopic tests if required. Medications can relieve the problem in most cases. If not, doctors may prescribe further tests to diagnose any underlying issues.
However, in the long term, it is best to follow some lifestyle changes to ensure they do not become a regular affair. You could try these changes.
- Eat smaller potions
- Eat slowly and do not gobble up food
- Avoid large and spicy meals
- Avoid carbonated drinks
- Practice breathing techniques daily
- Practice Yoga asanas like Surya namaskar
Following these tips can help control occurrence of hiccups to a great extent. However, since they are natural and triggers are not identified conclusively, you may still get the occasional hiccups. The key is to not let them interfere with your regular activities and carry on.