Details We Don’t Know About Everyday Things:  Why Do Hiccup Cures Work?


Hiccups are weird things, and we’re not even sure why they happen. There’s no real, practical reason for a hiccup, and we don’t know why all of our tried-and-true hiccup cures work. Everyone has their favorites, from eating a spoonful of sugar to holding your breath until the hiccups stop. There are so many ways to get rid of a hiccup that no matter where you are when you get it, someone will have a suggestion for making it stop. It turns out that none of the cures are guaranteed to work for everyone, and there’s not much scientific support for any of them. As for the ones that do work? Well, don’t really know why they do.Hiccups are essentially caused by the diaphragm having a spasm, which can be caused by anything from laughing to medication. Stopping a hiccup seems to rely on a couple of different things. Raising the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood seems to have some success in stopping hiccups, but no one’s sure what that has to do with the process. Other somewhat successful remedies work by impacting the vagus nerve, which is involved in making sure we don’t try to breathe and swallow at the same time. We don’t know what that has to do with the diaphragm, either, but that seems to be why things like pressing on your eyes or pulling your ear help—those actions stimulate the nerve. Another method that’s been found to cure hiccups is, bizarrely, rectal massage. Used as a cure for an extreme case of the hiccups in 1988, its success was once again traced back to stimulating the same vagus nerve.



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