Pope Pius XII had them. Animals get ‘em; kids too. Even a fetus can rat-a-tat-tat them. We're talking hiccups, involuntary spasms of your diaphragm (the muscle at the base of your lungs that rises and falls as you breathe) that trigger sudden closure of your vocal cords. And up comes “hic.”
Fortunately, these spasms are usually harmless and temporary, triggered by everything from overeating to carbonated drinks, excess alcohol and stress. But if they persist, they can signal an underlying medical condition, such as GERD (chronic acid reflux) or an intestinal blockage. The longest recorded siege was 40 years -- with the guy having spasms 20 to 40 times a minute. But these days, docs knock out most persistent cases with medications, anesthesia and ventilation. Even acupuncture.
For a passing hic-fest, alas, there's no proven cure. We suggest you try relaxing or -- BOO! (Suddenly screaming at the victim is Dr. Mike's favorite.) Did that do it? If not, here are the weirdest home remedies that someone somewhere swears will work:
--Stand on a chair in a crowded restaurant and shout, “I have hiccups!”
--Pull on your tongue or ears.
--Put your head on the ground and blow into your thumb.
--Put your face in ice water.
--Scream for as long as you can (another favorite).
Life has its hiccups, but trying one of these remedies may make it all seem funnier, and people who laugh regularly have a healthier heart, less stress and a better outlook (hic) on life!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.