ChemistDirect experts offer health advice on putting a stop on hiccups

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ChemistDirect’s Superintendent Pharmacist Omar El-Gohary advises on the effects of hiccups and how to avoid them.

Hiccups

Hiccups can affect anyone of any age

Hiccups are common and most people will get them at some point during their life. They can affect people of any age, including babies.

Everyone has suffered from them at some point, and they often strike at an inconvenient time such as in public - but what are hiccups and why do people get them?

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm suddenly and involuntary contracts resulting in a hiccup sound being produced at the top of the windpipe (1).

The medical name for hiccups is synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus (2). The diaphragm is a thin membrane of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. It is underneath the ribcage and helps to control breathing.

ChemistDirect Superintendent Pharmacist Omar El-Gohary said: “Hiccups are common and most people will get them at some point during their life. They can affect people of any age, including babies.

“They are a reflex action, which means that sufferers do not have any control over them.”

“Most hiccups pass very quickly – and waiting for them to go is usually the best course of action”, adds El-Gohary.

“However the following can also help: slowly sipping ice cold water, holding your breath for a few seconds, gargling with water, or leaning forward to compress your chest.”

Other tips include biting on a lemon, swallowing granulated sugar, tasting vinegar or gently placing pressure on your nose while swallowing (1).

The world record for continuous hiccups is 68 years (3) but anyone experiencing continuing hiccups should visit their GP.

References

1. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hiccup/Pages/Introduction.aspx
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiccup
3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/health_guinness_medical_record_breakers/html/2.stm

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Samantha Smith
Chemist Direct
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