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What Happens When We Get Hiccups?

3:15 PM, May 31, 2013   |    comments
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High Point, NC  -- We all get them. And there are many different opinions of how to get rid of them. But do you know what happens when you get hiccups? High Point University Anatomy Professor Dr. Mark Teaford explains some of the science of hiccups, and whether or not there's a single cure!

Teaford said, "The immediate culprit in hiccups is the diaphragm." It's the muscle between the thorax. Normally, the diaphragm comes down and pulls at the bottom of the lungs with every breath you take, sucking air into the lungs. But in hiccups, Teaford said, "what happens is the diaphragm fires randomly and very strongly and rapidly pulls air into the lungs." When that happens, the vocal chords snap together and vibrate, creating the "hic" sound.

But what causes hiccups? Teaford said, "Unfortunately, while we know how hiccups occur, we don't really know why they occur. The causes are anything from too much alcohol, carbonated beverages, changes in temperature, emotional stress, they vary from person to person."

He also said, that also means there's not one set cure. "Most of the cures that are out there are aimed at one of two things, either calming the diaphragm, preventing the rapid contractions, or getting the central nervous system to focus on something other than the sensation that originally triggered the hiccups."

In the end, Teaford said, "Most hiccups cure themselves in a matter of minutes."

WFMY News 2

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