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Hiccups are caused by spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm. Hiccoughing is a reflex action, referred to in medical terms as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. Many of us regularly experience hiccups but are still unsure as to how to combat them. Causes

Infrequent or brief episodes of hiccoughing do not merit much attention, but should the episodes become persistent or regular, it is possible that this might be a sign of an underlying medical condition. In adults, hiccups can occur as a result of excess alcohol or drug consumption. Additionally, hiccups might be a symptom of renal failure or hyperglycemia.

As for children, hiccups generally occur as a result of overeating or consumption of carbonated liquids. This might cause distention in the stomach, thus leading to spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm. In addition to this, hiccups might be triggered by anxiety, excitement or fear. With babies, hiccups can be worrying. However, generally hiccups occur in babies merely as a result of too much air being taken in during feeding. Rarely are hiccups an indication of underlying problems in babies, but gastroesophageal disease is one of the few conditions that could be a cause of hiccups during infancy.

During pregnancy, women often suffer from bouts of hiccups. Generally, hiccups will occur at the end of the first trimester or at the beginning of the third. The reason for hiccups during pregnancy is that the rate of breathing is 30-40% higher than normal.

Occasionally, some might experience post-surgical hiccups. This is due to a reaction to the anesthetic. Dogs might also experience hiccups as a result of eating too quickly or because of stomach irritation and over excitement.Treatment

Most of the time, episodes of hiccups often self-terminate. Often, simply drinking a glass of water is enough to stop the occurrence. Some other methods do exist. For example, it is often recommended to consume 10 consecutive gulps of water without breathing. One might also try putting a teaspoon of sugar on the tongue, sucking a wedge of fresh lime or ginger, taking and holding a deep breath, self-distraction or slow breathing. If hiccups are a sign of an underlying condition, the best idea is to treat the condition itself.

Other treatments include drinking water upside down, blowing up a plastic bag, or gargling red or white wine. One other method advises the chewing of a lime doused in Angostura bitters. Chew the whole lime and spit out the rind. Your hiccups should have disappeared.

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