Simple remedies can help most readers get rid of the hiccups
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
9/26/12 at 3:55 AM
Dear Doctor K: I've been hiccupping for days. Please help!
Dear Reader: At the bottom of your lungs, separating your chest from your abdomen, lies a flat, blanket-like muscle called the diaphragm. It moves down when you take a breath in, creating suction in your chest that helps pull air into your lungs. It moves up when you breathe out, helping push air out of your lungs.
A hiccup is caused by a sudden contraction or spasm of the diaphragm. It makes you inhale quickly and involuntarily. Then the space in your throat near your vocal cords snaps shut, producing the typical hiccup sound.
Of the many purported ways to get rid of hiccups, here are a few that have some merit:
In a small number of cases, though, persistent hiccups may be a sign of disease. The underlying issue is usually something that causes irritation of one of the nerves in the chest that send signals to the diaphragm telling it to move. Hiccups can be triggered by excess alcohol use, kidney failure and infections, especially ear infections.
- Stimulate the uppermost region of your throat: Pull on your tongue; put a teaspoon of granulated sugar on the back of your tongue; gargle with water or sip ice water; drink from the far side of a glass; or bite on a lemon.
- Tap or rub the back of your neck.
- Gently poke the back of your throat with a long cotton swab.
- Stimulate the cone-like tissue that hangs from the back of the top of your mouth (the uvula) by touching it with a cotton swab.
- Change your breathing pattern: Hold your breath; breathe into a paper bag; gasp in fright; or pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward.
Your doctor may also prescribe a medication. The ones most often used are chlorpromazine, haloperidol and metoclopramide. Or your doctor may tell you to stop taking a particular drug that may be causing your hiccups. Examples include midazolam, some types of chemotherapy and digoxin.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106