When I was younger, I got the hiccups frequently. I’d get them at the most random times: at school, at home, during dinner and even during my morning poop. One day, I was flipping through one of the Guinness World Records books and read that the longest recorded case of the hiccups lasted 68 years. He would “hic” every ten seconds, and ever since then, I’ve had the fear of getting hiccups and not being able to recover from them. But we actually have nothing to fear, and let me tell you why.
According to Medical News Today, hiccups, medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus, happen when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily at the same time as the voice box. As a result, the epiglottis closes, blocking the airway temporarily. Hiccups rarely require any medical treatment as they usually stop on their own within a short amount of time.
If you get the hiccups, the best way to get rid of them is by holding your breath. Yup, that’s all. By holding your breath, you’re able to relax the diaphragm and stabilize the spasms which cause the hiccups and irregular rhythm of breathing.
Holding your breath can be done several different ways. You can breathe in and hold your breath for ten seconds, breathe out slowly and repeat this three or four times. You can also hold your breath while drinking a glass of water. Or you can bend over to touch your toes for 20 seconds while holding your breath.
If, for some strange reason, holding your breath doesn’t work, MedicineNet suggests other measures you can take. You can try to drink water really quickly, have someone frighten you, pull on your tongue or bite into a slice of lemon. These techniques are said to stimulate a nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach, decreasing the hiccups.
Almost all hiccups will stop on their own or through simple measures; however, if your hiccups end up lasting for more than three hours, you may need to contact a medical doctor. Medical News Today explains that a doctor will try to prescribe you medications if you are unable to eat properly, have insomnia or show signs of clinical depression. Some medications are muscle relaxants, sedatives or stimulants to help alleviate the symptoms.
Ultimately, hiccups are nothing to be afraid of — you can cure them by simply holding your breath. However, if you or anyone you know can’t seem to get rid of a bad case of the hiccups, schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately.
Now go out and teach your friends the best way to get rid of the hiccups, starting with this cute little seal.