The common curse of Singultus

By
March 9, 2006

Artwork by Malinda Groening

The symptoms of Singultus are common knowledge: first, a rumbling feeling emerges in the victim's chest, then their shoulders thrust back and finally a high pitched sound emerges.

Most people recognize this condition by its common name: the hiccup.

A hiccup is when the diaphragm forces air into the lungs and causes the glottis (the hanging piece of flesh at the upper back of the throat) to close, creating a 'hic' noise.

Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., writes in his Inteli Health article that the causes of hiccups are "emotional stress or excitement, sudden stretching of the stomach: overeating, drinking carbonated beverages, or swallowing air, sudden temperature change such as drinking a hot beverage, drinking alcohol and smoking."

Freshwoman Brianna Walters does not consider hiccups to be an accurate sign of drunkenness. "Babies get hiccups and you can't say that the baby's drunk… it's the air in [the beverage that is consumed] … it doesn't matter if it's water or alcohol," she said.

Helen Walters, a visiting assistant professor of Biology at Mills said that she gets the hiccups when she eats hot sweet and sour soup at Chinese Restaurants.

Many hiccup cures exist, including eating only certain foods, drinking water, holding one's breath, focusing on the hiccup, distracting oneself and scaring the affected person.

Dr. Michael Alexiou told James Madison University's newspaper, The Breeze Front, that "hiccups can be inhibited when carbon dioxide is high in the blood… re-breathing in a paper bag, eating bread or holding one's breath… increases carbon dioxide in the blood."

According to a University of Michigan study, "a teaspoon of ordinary table sugar, swallowed dry, cured hiccups in 19 out of 20 people."

Caroline Shapiro, a Mills Freshwoman, concurred with this opinion. "Usually what works for me is a spoonful of sugar… I might have heard it from Bill Nye the Science Guy."


The common curse of Singultus was published on March 9, 2006 in Sports & Health

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