(HealthDay News) -- Hiccups occur when the diaphragm, the muscle at the bottom of the lungs, begins to spasm. The spasm causes the vocal cords to close quickly, which results in the loud, distinctive sound associated with hiccups.
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The U.S. National Library of Medicine says hot or spicy foods and strong fumes may help trigger hiccups. Pleurisy, pneumonia or damage to the area of the brain that controls the "hiccup center" may lead to more frequent outbreaks.
The NLM suggests holding your breath, drinking a glass of cold water or eating a teaspoon of sugar can help stop hiccups. You may also try holding a paper bag to your mouth and breathing in and out for a few minutes.
While it is rare for hiccups to last more than a few minutes, if yours continue for more than a few days, the NLM says you should see a doctor.
-- Diana Kohnle
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