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Hiccups and how to get rid of them!

hiccups; breathing; breathe; carbon; dioxide; diaphragm;


What are hiccups?

Breathing is one of the things that your body does without you having to think about it. The brain sends messages along the phrenic (fren-ik) nerve to the diaphragm (dye-a-fram). The muscle contracts, which makes your lungs fill with the air that comes into your body through your mouth or nose.

hiccupsSometimes for some reason which is not really understood, extra messages are sent from the brain down the phrenic nerve to the diaphragm. The diaphragm contracts too quickly and you get hiccups.

The 'hic' sound is caused when the epiglottis (epi-glot-iss) slams shut. The epiglottis is a kind of a door which closes over the windpipe when you swallow food or drinks so that nothing apart from air goes down into your lungs.

Have you ever had hiccups? Does having hiccups make you feel like laughing? There you are trying to talk, or read, or sit in the classroom, and everyone can hear you hiccupping away. People usually laugh, but it can sometimes be embarrassing if you are in a quiet place and all that can be heard are your hiccups!

So, how can you make hiccups go away?

10 tips for getting rid of them

Hiccups stop without you doing anything - but sometimes they seem to last for a long time - so people try some of these ideas. It is quite likely none of them work to make the hiccups go away more quickly - but they might seem to work because the hiccups stop - naturally.

 1.  Drink or gargle water slowly. Some people try to drink from the other side of the glass so that they are bent right over.

 2.  Get tickled.

 3.  Get someone to scare you. That can be fun too.

 4.  Hold your breath as long as you can.

 5.  Put something sweet, like a spoonful of sugar on the back of your tongue.

 6.  Suck something sour, like a lemon.

 7.  Put your fingers in your ears and gently wiggle them.

 8.  Poke out your tongue and give it a good tug with your fingers. 

 9.  Take an antacid with magnesium in it. 

 10.  Breathe into a paper bag. Alert! Never use plastic bags as they can stick against your face and stop you breathing.

But probably none of these work - the hiccups just go away by themselves!

How to avoid hiccups

Usually there is no clear reason for hiccups to start - but it might seem like these things could have triggered them.

Sometimes hiccups start when you are laughing - but usually you can laugh without getting hiccups. You need to be able to laugh without worrying about hiccups!

Sometimes hiccups start when you are doing something which is causing you to feel embarrassed - like giving a presentation to your class - but this usually is not happening when the hiccups start, and usually you can do something which is embarrassing without getting hiccups.

Sometimes hiccups start when you drink something really fast.

Some people think that you can avoid hiccups if you don't eat too fast. Eating quickly lets more air in with the food.

Some people think that pigging out on lots of food is another cause of hiccups. They think that hiccups are your body's way of telling you to stop eating because your digestive system can't cope with all that food at once!

hiccupsVery spicy food may cause hiccups. Some hot and spicy foods can irritate the lining of the oesophagus, (say a-sof-a-gus) the tube which food goes down from your mouth to the stomach. It may also irritate the lining of the stomach, especially if you are not used to hot and spicy food.

Drinking alcohol may cause hiccups for some people.

But can these really be the causes of hiccups?

Most of the times that you drink fast, eat too much or too quickly, you don't get hiccups, and spicy food usually does not trigger hiccups. Really, we don't know why people get hiccups - but when you do, they can be really annoying and even embarrassing!

Isn't it strange how people around us all start to laugh when we get the hiccups? Well, it does look and sound funny doesn't it?

Some interesting stuff about hiccups

  • Most attacks of the hiccups don’t last long but they can last for a very long time if someone has an illness that causes toxins (poisons) to build up in the blood – like kidney failure.
  • Men are more likely than women to get hiccups, and babies and young children are much more likely to get them than adults.
  • The longest recorded attack of hiccups was 68 years and it is listed in the Guinness book of records.
  • Babies hiccup even before they are born – which feels very odd to the mother.
  • In India some people believe that when you hiccup someone in your family is thinking about you.
  • Some people believe that you get hiccups when someone is talking about you.
  • Any animal with a diaphragm can get hiccups.
  • You can spell hiccups in two ways. One is the way we have spelt it, the other way is hiccoughs.

What kids say

"What I do to get rid of hiccups is…I get a glass of water and lie upside down on the couch while I drink the water."

"I last had hiccups this morning. To get rid of my hiccups I held my breath. I don’t like having hiccups." Kirra

"When I am laughing I get hiccups. I hold my nose and drink a glass of water to make them go." Mikaila

"I gargle salt water. That’s what my mum does too."

"I wait for them to go and if they don’t I hold my breath for 7 seconds or have 7 sips of water." Sasa

 "It's funny to watch my dog when he gets hiccups." Jane

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate"Most people have hiccups only one to three times a year. Some people get them quite often for a while, then they go away and don't come back for a long time.

If you've tried to get rid of hiccups and they are still around after about 3 hours, or keep coming back, it is a good idea to see your doctor.

Hiccups are funny at first, but they can make you feel very tired if they keep going while you are trying to eat or sleep."


I don't like hiccups,
They are very bad.
Sometimes they're annoying
And they make me mad.
If you want to get rid of them
Get someone to give you a scare.
If you don't know how,
Then I suggest you get a bear!
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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