It’s rare that I get hiccups, but, when I do, I get them at least four times a day and they are a pain to everyone around me. My roommates gave up trying to give me remedies and, instead, found that scaring me was the only way to cease their annoyance. As many of us probably know, having someone jump out from the closet does kill the hiccups, but if you want a remedy that will do less damage on your heart, let’s talk about sugar. Some researchers believe that a spoonful of sugar is all it takes to clear up the hiccups.
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Before we talk about getting rid of hiccups, let’s discuss what causes them. An informational website, Mental Floss, says “The ancient Greeks thought hiccups were violent emotions erupting from body. Today, evidence points to spasms in the diaphragm, the large muscle between the chest and abdomen that aids airflow during breathing.” No matter which theory you believe, for some of us, hiccups may be difficult to stop once they get started. Brought on by eating too quickly or becoming excited, hiccups can happen anytime, anyplace.
Mental Floss explains that, when hiccuping, “The diaphragm spasms and causes us to take a quick breath. The sudden rush of air causes the epiglottis (the flap that protects the space between the vocal cords) to shut and interrupt the breath, which makes the familiar “hic” sound.” So now that we understand how hiccups happen, let’s find out the best way to get rid of them!
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How does this Hiccup Cure work?
Mental Floss tells us that there are two reasons for the stopping of hiccups, “one type […] overwhelms the vagus nerve with another sensation […which] tells the brain that something more important has come up,” and, therefore, hiccuping stops. This is why becoming scared or averting attention to something other than your hiccups is likely to make them stop. The second way to stop hiccups is to “interfere with breathing [by] increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood, and causing the body to focus on getting rid of the CO2,” Mental Floss says. So, scaring someone with the hiccups has been proven to work, but let’s focus on a more enjoyable option.
A SCIENCE INFORMATIONAL WEBSITE, PLANET SCIENCE, STATES THAT “SCIENTISTS IN THE 1970S FOUND THAT 19 OUT OF 20 PATIENTS WITH HICCUPS FOUND THAT EATING A SPOONFUL OF GRANULATED SUGAR STOPPED THEIR HICCUPS.”
Nineteen out of twenty is pretty good odds! It might be true that stopping hiccups is as easy as enjoying a spoon full of sweetness. Planet Science says even though the explanation for why sugar works isn’t fully understood, it is thought “that the sugar affects the vagus nerve which connects your brain and your tummy [which] may stop the diaphragm from spasming.”
Verdict: Fact. Sugar is known to stop hiccups. All you have to do is fill up a spoon with sugar, swallow, and voila, you hiccups should disappear. Mental Floss says “Even ardent supporters of the sugar cure disagree [whether] the sugar should be taken dry or washed down with water,” so how you finish the process is up to you. If your hiccups occur frequently or bring about a severe discomfort, speak to your doctor about remedies to alleviate your hiccups.