Monday July 7 2014

Things you should know: hiccup

By Betty Ndagire

Hiccup is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, which occurs at the same time as a contraction of the voice box (larynx). When this happens, it blocks air intake.

Dr Eunice Nandudu, a general practitioner at Rojos Health Centre in Seeta, Mukono District, says there is no known cause of hiccups, although research shows it is often triggered by a minor stomach upset.

“People who eat spicy foods, or large meals and drink a lot of alcohol have a higher risk of developing hiccups,” says Dr Nandudu.
In children, she says hiccup happens as the esophagus enlarges. “The component of the throat need to enlarge as a child grows, and they do this through hiccups. And as children are fed on different foods, this tends to expand their throat,” she explains.

In adults, it can be triggered if a person eats quickly, develops sudden body temperature or smokes cigarettes frequently

Dr Nandudu says, in majority of the cases, hiccups disappear suddenly without treatment.
However, she says when a person has prolonged hiccup attacks, it can result into a serious medical condition, requiring urgent treatment.
When attacks last longer than a month, the hiccups are termed intractable. These prolonged hiccups affect men more than women.

Quick remedies
•Drink plenty of water to reduce the irritation that hiccups cause to the throat.
•Pull your tongue out using considerable force and then hold your breath for as long as you feel comfortable.
• Pant as deep as you can.
•Chew and then swallow a piece of dry bread.