There are lots of myths surrounding hiccups and how to get rid of them, but are any of them actually true? This article will examine some of the most common myths and their validity.
You may have heard of Charles Osborne, who in 1990 finally got rid of his hiccups at 96 years old after having them for 68 years.
Is this the longest recorded attack of this seemingly common affliction? It would seem to be–but instead, it’s one of the many myths about hiccups you’ll read about.
So, how can you differentiate common myths about hiccups from hiccup facts? Read on to find out what’s fact versus fiction when it comes to hiccups.
What Are Hiccups?
Hiccups result from irritation to nerves in the abdomen, gastrointestinal tract, and the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a large, horizontal muscle that helps you to breathe. When you breathe in, your lungs expand, and the diaphragm expands downwards so your lungs have more space to inflate. When you breathe out and your lungs shrink, the diaphragm curves upwards to support the lungs.
When you get hiccups, irritation to nerves in the abdomen disrupt the normal breathing pattern described above, causing the diaphragm to spasm.
As the diaphragm contracts and air rushes into the lungs, the glottis–a flap of cartilage at the back of the throat–closes. The air rushing in hits the glottis, producing a “hic” sound, hence the name hiccups.
What Causes or Triggers Hiccups
Some of the things that may trigger occasional, everyday hiccups may include:
- Spicy or hot foods
- Eating too fast
- Too much alcohol
- Sodas or other carbonated beverages
- Nicotine gum
Clinically Significant Hiccups
Sometimes, hiccups last for an abnormally long time, generally considered to be over 48 hours. If this happens to you, be sure to contact your doctor as this can sometimes signal an underlying medical condition.
Clinically significant hiccups can also be a side effect of medical conditions such as cancer or kidney disease. Damage to the part of the brain that controls respiration can also be a cause of clinically significant hiccups.
Other triggers may include certain epilepsy medications and chest or abdominal surgeries.
Myths About Hiccups
Many of the common myths offer creative theories as to why people get hiccups and unfounded ideas on how to stop them. Here are a few of our favorites:
Hold Your Breath
The theory behind this myth is that holding your breath can interrupt hiccups, eventually stopping them. Holding your breath is an exercise that sometimes works–but not in all instances.
Make no mistake, this is no foolproof method.
Scare Yourself Speechless
Or get someone else to do it. The mechanisms behind this myth are the same concept as those behind holding your breath.
Some people believe that a sudden jolt of fear can stop hiccups. Just as with holding your breath, it can sometimes work on a whim, but is far from a guaranteed solution.
A Spoonful of Sugar
Helps the medicine go down, according to the famous song. However, some believe it can also aid in eliminating hiccups.
While some people swear by this method, there is no scientific basis that shows that this works. It also would be extremely inconvenient to carry a spoonful of sugar with you wherever you go.
Drinking water is one of the most popular myths for getting rid of hiccups.
Some people take this myth a step further, and opt to drink a glass of water upside down. You might have to figure out how to approach this before you actually try it. There isn’t much science behind drinking water to stop hiccups, so it’s unlikely to help no matter which direction you drink the water in.
Be Nice, It’s Nice!
Is someone gossiping or talking negatively about you? There’s one way to know: you’ll get hiccups. This is what some people really believe.
We don’t need to explain that this isn’t based in science. Of course, this old wives’ tale is far from the truth.
You’re Truly Liked
Someone turned the myth above on its head and spread that you can get hiccups when someone says something nice about you. If this were true, it would be enough to make you want them not to.
It would also mean that some people would have hiccups all day. Think of well-loved celebrities. Thankfully, this myth isn’t true.
Skip a Beat
Does your heart skip a beat every time you hiccup? If true, then every diaphragm contraction would stop your heart. That’s what some people really believe.
However, one has nothing to do with the other. This would make having hiccups even scarier!
Tickle the Roof of Your Mouth
Just thinking about this may seem awkward, but some people believe it will help stop hiccups. Proponents of this myth often suggest using a cotton swab to tickle the roof of your mouth.
While stimulating the roof of your mouth might help stop hiccups, this method likely would not do the trick on its own.
The List Goes On
Every day, there seems to be a new theory put forth surrounding how to stop hiccups. They include breathing into a paper bag, or leaning forward while you pull your knees into your chest.
Many of these myths claim to stop hiccups in under 10 seconds. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.
A Scientific Solution
However, there is one method that scientifically stops hiccups–Hiccupops! Hiccupops contain ingredients that return your breathing to normal by working to reset the hiccup reflex. They work in just a few seconds, plus they’re super convenient and tasty!