(WXYZ) – Having a case of the hiccups can be quite annoying. They happen to just about everyone, but for some reason, they affect males more often than females.
For most people, they last a couple of very long minutes. But a few unlucky ones can suffer with hiccups for days or months.
They’re an involuntary contraction or spasm of the diaphragm. That’s the muscle at the base of your lungs that separates your chest from your abdomen. A hiccup makes you inhale quickly, followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, creating the “hic” sound we are all familiar with.
It seems hiccups have no purpose for the most part. They happen for a variety of reasons. It could be you ate too much, drank too much alcohol or carbonated beverages or felt a quick temperature change. Sudden excitement, emotional stress and swallowing air can also be triggers.
If you search the internet for ways to get rid of them, you’ll find no shortage of crazy advice. There are no reliable ways to stop them, but here are my prescriptions for logical and easy remedies you can try:
1. Hold your breath and count slowly to 10. This interrupts your normal respiratory cycle and your diaphragm relaxes.
2. You can also breathe into a paper bag. You’ll inhale more carbon dioxide which can help.
3. You can stimulate the nasopharynx in your throat. Try any of these: pull on your tongue, gargle with ice water, eat a teaspoon of sugar or take a bite of lemon.
4. Try rubbing the back of your neck or tapping it. This stimulates the area over the spinal nerves.
If your hiccups don’t go away after 48 hours, see your doctor as there are medications that can reduce them. Your doctor will also look for rare, but serious health problems that could be the cause like nerve damage, nerve irritation, mental health problems and central nervous system disorders like tumors, stroke, infections and cancer. But for the majority of us, hiccups are a normal part of life that we need to deal with for a short amount of time.
Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed