Why do we hiccup? - John Cameron | Summary and Q&A

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July 28, 2016
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TED-Ed
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Why do we hiccup? - John Cameron

TL;DR

Hiccups can be caused by various stimuli and are a result of involuntary muscle contractions in the diaphragm and vocal chords.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What can cause hiccups?

Hiccups can be caused by stretching the stomach, swallowing air, rapid eating or drinking, intense emotions like laughing or sobbing, anxiety, and excitement.

Q: What happens in the body during a hiccup?

A hiccup starts with an involuntary spasm in the diaphragm, followed by the sudden closure of the vocal chords. This results in an intake of air that is blocked from entering the lungs, creating the sound we associate with hiccups.

Q: Do hiccups serve any purpose?

Currently, there is no known function for hiccups. They don't seem to provide any medical or physiological advantage, which presents a challenge for evolutionary biologists in determining their purpose.

Q: Are hiccups connected to our evolutionary past?

One hypothesis suggests that hiccups may have originated during the transition from water to land in early fish populations. The closure of the glottis during an inhalation could prevent water from entering the lungs.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Charles Osborne holds the record for the longest hiccup episode, lasting 68 years, while Jennifer Mee experienced the most frequent hiccups, occurring 50 times per minute for over four weeks.

  • Hiccups can be triggered by stretching the stomach, intense emotions, or unexplained reasons.

  • Hiccups begin with a spasm in the diaphragm followed by the closure of the vocal chords, creating a distinct sound.

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