Why Do I Hiccup?



By Theresa Knott, via Wikimedia Commons

Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at a simple physical behavior - hiccuping. There is a reason why we hiccup - but there are many ideas about how to stop them!

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The year was 1922. Charles Osborne was a farmer in the United States. He kept large animals, pigs, for food. On this day, he was preparing to kill one of the pigs. As Osborne measured the pig, it fell on top of him. Osborne was not hurt badly. But something strange did happen to Osborne - he started hiccupping. Osborne’s hiccups would not stop. Every ten seconds, another hiccup. Ten more seconds, and another hiccup. For years, doctors tried to help him. They performed operations. But the operations did not help. The hiccups continued for years! His case was so interesting that even television programs wanted to talk to him about his experience. 68 years later, Osborne’s hiccups finally stopped. Osborne died about a year later. No one knows why Charles Osborne started hiccupping. And no one knows why he stopped hiccupping either!

Voice 2 

Few of us will experience such an extreme case of the hiccups. But all of us have hiccupped at some point in our lives. What exactly is a hiccup? Why do our bodies hiccup? Is there a purpose? Today’s Spotlight is on hiccups!

Voice 1 

There are many stories and ideas about hiccups. For example, in India or parts of the Middle East, people have a particular saying about why people get the hiccups. They might say that you got the hiccups because someone is thinking about you. In other places, people may say you got the hiccups because someone is saying bad things about you. They say the only way to stop your hiccups is to think of the person who is talking about you! These theories are not based in science. They are just fun stories. But what does cause a hiccup?

Voice 2 

Hiccups begin in a muscle called the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a wide, flat muscle. It is below your lungs, and above your stomach. It stretches from one side of your body to the other. It is a muscle that helps you breathe. When you breathe in, the diaphragm pulls down. This pulls air into your lungs. When you breathe out, the diaphragm pushes up. This is the normal rhythm or pattern of breathing.

Voice 1 

But sometimes something affects the diaphragm in a bad way - it irritates the diaphragm. This makes the diaphragm move in an unusual way. Instead of smoothly pulling down in the normal way, it pulls down quickly. This quick movement pulls air into a person’s throat too quickly. The vocal cords are near the top of your throat. They make the sound of a person’s voice. Normally, they work together with the diaphragm for breathing. But during a hiccup, the air comes in too quickly. The vocal cords at the top of the throat close. This is what makes the sound of the hiccup.

Voice 2 

There are many causes of hiccupping. Many things can irritate the diaphragm muscle. Some are simple things that are easy to understand. Have you ever had the hiccups after eating a very big meal? Or have you started to hiccup after drinking a drink with gas in it - like Coca Cola? Eating or drinking too much or too quickly can lead to hiccups in some people. The diaphragm muscle lies on top of the stomach. When the stomach becomes too full, it can irritate the diaphragm - giving you the hiccups!

Voice 1 

Other causes of hiccups can be much more complex. For example, consider the case of Chris Sands. The UK Newspaper, The Sun, told his story. In September 2006 Sands hiccupped for two weeks. About five months later the hiccups started again! Then they did not stop. Sands experienced the hiccups for 24 hours a day. Sometimes they even came every two seconds!

Voice 2 

In 2009, a doctor found a small tumor growing on a part of Sands’ brain. The tumor was extremely serious. Sands needed an operation to remove it. He told the Sun’s reporter, Kate Jackson:

Voice 3 

“It would have spread to pushing on the nerves that control movement on the left side of my body. Then it would have spread to my eyesight and speech. Then I probably would have died.”

Voice 1 

Today, Sands does have some problems related to his operation. But his hiccups are gone and he is alive! The hiccups were a warning sign of the tumour.

Voice 2 

The good news is that hiccups are very normal for most people. In fact, they usually only affect someone for a few minutes. Then they go away. And hiccup experts say there are things people can do to avoid the hiccups. One of these things is to slow down while eating and drinking. Also, do not eat too much. Doing these things helps to avoid irritating the diaphragm. People can also avoid spicy food and alcohol. These things irritate the stomach lining, which can also irritate the diaphragm.

Voice 1 

So if you do get the hiccups, do not worry! There are hundreds of ways to get rid of them! In fact, it seems as if each person has his or her own favorite method for getting rid of hiccups! For example, one common method is to hold your breath. Take in a very deep breath. Hold it for ten seconds - counting to yourself slowly. By the time you release your breath, your hiccups should be gone. When you hold your breath, you do not release carbon dioxide gas. Some hiccup experts believe this method works to calm the diaphragm. Here are some other popular methods people use to cure their hiccups:

Voice 2 

Drink water.

Voice 1 

Pull on your tongue.

Voice 2 

Try to make yourself sneeze.

Voice 1 

Rub softly on the stomach of someone with hiccups.

Voice 2 

Eat a small amount of honey or sugar.

Voice 1 

Concentrate very hard on when the next hiccup will come. You may concentrate so hard that the next one just never comes!

Voice 2 

These methods do not work for every person. But people who really want to get rid of their hiccups will often try anything!

Voice 1 

What are your favorite methods for getting rid of hiccups? Do hiccups bother you? Tell us about your hiccup experiences on the script page of this program.

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Why Do I Hiccup?”

Voice 1 

You can also email us at radio at radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you ever get the hiccups? What are your favorite methods for getting rid of hiccups? Do hiccups bother you?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
nature187_vn
said on February 18, 2013

I always have hiccups in the life everyday and I guess all of us who have hiccups at least one time .But I only experience hiccup in some second and after it went away.I know some experience in problem cure the hiccups.The first you should drink water until the hiccup over.The second you work and dont think about it and then it will have effective.The last I know we eat a little sugar…Hope all my expericence what can cure the hiccups andl useful for everyone !

Dzung.vn's avatar
Dzung.vn
said on February 18, 2013

In fact, I have never take attention to the hiccup and why do people being hiccup themselves? I don’t remember that how many times I have ever hiccup in my life before until now. And how did I solve it. Maybe, I have ever done as the way you are suggested. In my opinion, it is not extremely serious problem such as fire or fatal. However, Your information is very useful for me. Many thanks spotlights.

Avatar Spotlight
maluisa
said on February 19, 2013

When somebody has hicupps in our family, We always give a scare to him or her.  This is a bit funny.
Thanks for your informations, Spotligh.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on February 19, 2013

I took a deep breath when I have hiccups for 5 seconds and then expel the air from my lungs. That hepls me sometimes.
Thanks Spotlight

guruparan's avatar
guruparan
said on February 21, 2013

very nice broadcast. I like it very much. I usually hiccup after had meal. is it any problem?

Sultan's avatar
Sultan
said on February 21, 2013

I rarely get hiccups, but when I do, they are usually severe and become painful rather quickly. I have no idea what really causes them, but I have noticed that I usually get them after eating meat.I often eat meals which are completely meat, such as a steak with nothing else, or a hamburger patty without a bun or other toppings. I just happen to like meat. But strangely, after two or three bites, I will often get a hiccup attack that lasts five minutes or so. Weird.

Avatar Spotlight
juan Reyes
said on February 23, 2013

In reality I have been thinking about which are the cause’s hiccups and in my village we have been treating with a myth: The wisest ways are to put a trickle wet with saliva in the face and leave it there for a while and then if you have faith in this remedy the hiccup will disappear.

Avatar Spotlight
Luckyman...
said on March 25, 2014

Nice story. If you eat and drink too much, it can lead to huccup. I used to hiccup but when i drunk a little of water, the hiccup were gone.

Avatar Spotlight
Jimmy Roberto Espinoza Mercado
said on March 25, 2014

I do not remember that I have gotten hiccups ever, even I think that I have never got, and I have seen very few people who had hiccups. Therefore this is a sudden topic for me. Thank you!

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on March 28, 2014

In my opinion, eating too big amount of food in a hurry first of all causes the people hiccup. We should avoid overeating and try to eat and drink slowly, in a quiet. The approved method to stop breathing for several seconds holding a lump of sugar in the mouth mostly helps in the case of hiccuping attack. If we improve our style of eating we may be able to prevent from this unpleasant phenomenon.
Greetings!

Avatar Spotlight
fuatcomlekciler
said on March 28, 2014

When somebody has hicupps in our family, Eat a small amount of sugar mostly useful and recommend.
I belive, hiccup have benefits our body.
Thanks for your informations, Spotligh.

Avatar Spotlight
Javier López
said on June 07, 2015

I have seen very few people who had hiccups.
Give a scare to him or her.
Many thanks spotlights.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 18, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Friday 18, November 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing for us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

No, I do not. I got hiccups when I was a child. So, after that I did not get hiccups any more. When I got hiccups, my mother gave me a glass of water to drink and she beat on my back three time. So, the hiccups disappeared from my throat, lungs, and diaphragm.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on November 19, 2016

Yes, sometimes. When I eat much or quickly.
I cut my breath for few seconds and drink water by slowly.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
rohanny
said on November 23, 2016

Here in Costa Rica when a baby has hiccups the grand mothers recommend to put a small and wet peace of paper in the baby’s forehead. Its estrange but it usually works.

Thanks for your informations, Spotligh.