Why Do People Hiccup

Why do people hiccup? You have probably wondered this yourself while trying one of the many wacky methods for getting rid of the annoying bodily function. The truth is that this question has been plaguing scientists and medical experts for years. The truth is there are no positive answers, but there are a few theories as to where they originate.

Basically, a hiccup is caused by a spasm in your diaphragm, the dome-shaped muscle that supports your lungs. The spasm comes from an irritation of the phrenic nerve, which controls the motion of the diaphragm. This spasm forces you to take in a sharp breath, but your epiglottis in the esophagus snaps shut, preventing the air from coming in and resulting in the "hic" sound. There is no known reason or cause for this spasm, which can start and stop suddenly.

The theory is that the hiccup used to serve some purpose, but over time and through evolution, we lost the need for it, much like the appendix. These days it does nothing for us except tell us when we eat too quickly, get nervous or drink too much, all events thought to be the most common catalysts for the hiccups.

Hiccups may also be caused by stomach acid coming up into the esophagus, much like acid reflux disease. It could also be from an irritation of the thorax in your throat.  

Another theory includes that it is similar to the "butterfly" feeling you get in your belly when you are nervous. The sensation can be so severe that you get the strong lurch in your stomach that sometimes can almost be painful if it's very forceful.

The most puzzling condition is chronic hiccups, in which the sufferer can't seem to get rid of the hiccups. They can last hours, days or even weeks to years. Doctors and scientists can't figure out what causes some people to have this continuous reaction, as it doesn't serve a purpose or have an easily identifable cause.

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