Sunday, October 04, 2009

why do we hiccup?

(picture courtesy of justsayyes)

i've always had this question in my mind, yet for some weird reasons i've never gotten around to actually finding the answers to that until now.
the other day my 7-year-old nephew asked me "why do we hiccup?" and i didn't have the answer for him, so i promised i would research on that and let him know.

yesterday, i broke into this bout of hiccups. it would come and go after each meal and lasted about 5-15 mins. each instance. although pretty harmless, we all know how annoying hiccups are, especially when you're trying to get some rest or carry a conversation with someone. so finally, i sat down and googled around to find my answers.

in a nutshell, here's what happens when we hiccup:

Hiccups are the result of an action the body takes to protect itself. Hiccups can start because hot food has irritated the phrenic nerve near the esophagus, or when gas in the stomach presses upward against the diaphragm. The diaphragm separates the chest from the stomach. The diaphragm tightens and pulls air into the lungs.

But air can't get through and we feel a "bump" at the moment the air is stopped. So hiccups are a reflex action of the body trying to get food or gas out of the stomach, thereby irritating the diaphragm. This in turn, affects the passage of air in and out of the lungs. We feel this as a "bump" and say we have the hiccups." (extract from medical news today)

i'm still not sure how to translate that into child-friendly language for my nephew.. hehe :P guess i'll have to try when i see him at our family lunch later.

some readings:
- medical news today: why do we hiccup?
- medical news today: what are hiccups? why do we hiccup? how to get rid of hiccups

- BBC: why we hiccup?

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