HumansHuman Body

What is a hiccup?


"Hic! You're probably been struck by hiccups at one point or another, perhaps you were drinking a soda too fast, or laughed so hard at something that you lost your breath.

So what causes this strange body function anyway?

There is a large muscle under your lungs called the diaphragm; it is what helps yours lungs expand and contract, which in turn is what makes you breathe. But sometimes your diaphragm can become irritated, maybe drinking or eating too quickly, smoke, or even just swallowing too much air! When this happens, your diaphragm contracts too quickly for your lungs to keep up and air rushes into your lungs at a much quicker pace than usual. This rush of air then hits your voice box, which is what causes the familiar "hic!" sound!


While hiccups may be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing, there's nothing really "dangerous" about them. Most clear up by themselves in a few minutes and, if not, there are numerous home remedies out there, some practical, some...not so much. Many of these work by relaxing the diaphragm, but sometimes the solution is as simple as distracting yourself from the hiccups until you settle down on your own!

Some Common "Cures" for Hiccups:Hold your breath.Drink a glass of warm water without stopping.Make yourself burp!Bite into a lemon wedge.Slowly eat a tablespoon of peanut butter, sugar, or honey.Ask a grown-up what they do when hiccups happen "" chances are, you will get a different answer from each person you talk to!

Further Information

Did you know?The world record for the longest bout of hiccuping belongs to an American man named Charles Osborne. He hiccuped continuously from 1922 until 1990 (that's 68 years!), until the hiccups stopped one day just as mysteriously as they began.Though he spent the majority of his life hiccuping, Mr. Osborne was still able to lead a normal life, marry, and have eight children! To which we say, hic hic, hooray!