The hiccup is an unexpected contraction, therefore involuntary and spasmodic, of the diaphragm which is expressed in an "inspiration followed by" the sudden and noisy closing of the glottis.

The impulses responsible for hiccups usually have a gastrointestinal or emotional origin; are accompanied, for example, with a large meal (characteristic is the baby's hiccups after feeding), the habit of ingesting air through food and chewing (aerophagia), digestive disorders (dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux) or one fright.

Hiccups are also characteristic of some diseases that irritate the motor nerve of the diaphragm (phrenic nerve), such as hiatal hernia (ascent of a tract of the stomach into the diaphragmatic hole), affections of the final tract of the esophagus, pericarditis, peritonitis, perforation of peptic ulcer, myocardial infarction, tumors of the first digestive tract (gastric and esophageal) and intestinal obstructions.

Remedies for hiccups

To solve the problem of short-term hiccups, which arise in the absence of organic alterations, popular tradition teaches various remedies, many of which have a scientific background. Since this disorder, considered its involuntary origin, is comparable to a nervous "tic", the voluntary actuation of the diaphragm can help to make it disappear;

  • drink a glass of water (some recommend doing this with the nose held up),
  • hold your breath for about twenty seconds,
  • operate the valsalva maneuver,
  • quickly repeat a nursery rhyme,
  • swallow bits of ice,
  • or provoke a "belching with cold carbonated water,

they often turn out to be useful actions to accelerate the disappearance of hiccups precisely because they imply a voluntary control of the diaphragmatic activity.

Herbal medicine offers remedies based on the spasmolytic and calming activity of some herbs, such as chamomile (infusion of flower heads), valerian (root), passionflower (top), wild thyme (whole flowering plant), lavender (flowers) and mint (leaves) Similarly, in case of persistent hiccups, doctors intervene by administering sedative drugs (benzodiazepines) and abdominal spasmolytics (atropine) to the patient.

To learn more, read: All the remedies for hiccups "

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