Why do we get hiccups?

Professor Hallux finds out!

Hiccups are very puzzling – a jumpy gulp in the back of your throat that makes a very distinctive sound!

Hiccups occur when your diaphragm – that’s the thin layer of muscle that separates your chest cavity from your abdomen – suddenly and involuntarily tightens.

As it tightens, it causes you to breathe in air very quickly. The incoming air is stopped when your glottis – that’s the opening between your vocal cords – closes suddenly, producing the characteristic sound of a hiccup.

Now although we know WHAT happens when we hiccup, it’s not clear WHY they occur.

They sometimes start after you have been eating or drinking too quickly, and spicy foods and fizzy drinks are particularly to blame.

There isn’t actually a sure fire way to get rid of them, although some people think that a sip of water or even a shock can make them stop.

But don’t ask someone to give you a shock when you’re having a drink. It might go down the wrong way!

Luckily hiccups aren’t generally harmful and stop all by themselves after a few minutes.

So if you’re still hiccupping after several hours, it might be worth a visit to the doctor!

You can hear Hallux’s More Physiology Fix-Up weekdays from 6pm on Fun Kids!

Professor Hallux: The Human Body Podcast for Kids

Learn about the human body in this podcast - from brains and bones to ears and eyes!

 

Professor Hallux’s More Physiology Fix-Up, with support from The Physiological Society!

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