What are Hiccups?
So what are hiccups? Hiccups (also known as hiccoughs and singultus) happen when your diaphragm – that smooth muscle separating your chest from your abdomen – contracts or spasms involuntarily. This causes a swift intake of air that is stopped suddenly by your vocal cords, which creates that classic, embarrassing hiccup sound.
What Causes Hiccups?
So what causes hiccups? Many doctors say agitating your phrenic nerves (nerves that stretch from your chest to your neck) causes hiccups. You can do this by eating too much or too quickly, drinking alcohol or carbonated beverages, swallowing air, or becoming emotionally stressed or excited. Some people have unique triggers. In rare cases, hiccups don't go away. These hiccups are called intractable or chronic hiccups, and they may be a sign of an underlying illness.
More Ways to Get Rid of Hiccups
Burp. This can help to undo any air you've swallowed that might have caused hiccups. It certainly helps babies after they've had a meal. Men – who are genetically closer to hoofed animals than primates – are generally better at force burping than women, but anyone can do it.
Get surprised or frightened. I think this hiccup cure is dubious, but some people insist that it works, and it's certainly been around for a long time. How do you get frightened when you know it's coming? My wife would have to put a loaded gun to my head while screaming, "Hiccup again man…just one more time." Going from hiccups to poop stains isn't exactly winning either.
Sandalwood, cypress, and tarragon essential oils work. All of these oils are cited as hiccup cures by numerous hippie homeopaths. You can either apply a few drops topically to your esophagus/clavicle area or take a supplement orally. Along similar lines, the strong odor of plain old smelling salts can keep diaphragm spasms under control.