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Help Your Child Understand Hiccups With These Four Important Facts

Team StoryWeavers|February 24, 2022, 18:11 IST|

“Hic!” Your child has just hiccuped. 

When children have fits of hiccups, there are high chances that they would have asked you several questions about it.

Their naturally-curious brains would wonder about one of the most interesting processes in the human body. 

You can then have an engaging discussion with your children on the science behind hiccups and how they are formed. Your child will not only understand what hiccups are, but also get a peek into the functioning of the digestive and respiratory systems.

Here, we try to answer some basic questions that ever-curious children will ask about hiccups. You can read these out to your child and  equip them with knowledge on hiccups. 

  • Why do you hiccup?

Hiccups are caused by a disturbance in a muscle called the diaphragm

Hiccups are one of  the most interesting yet annoying things that can happen to you. It’s a painfully funny noise that you make when you eat too much or too fast. Sometimes, they happen for no reason. 

But, do you know why we hiccup? 

Well, it is because of a combination of respiratory and digestive actions. And it’s caused by the diaphragm – a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the chest.  

All hiccups start here.

This diaphragm almost always works perfectly. Normally, the diaphragm functions like this:  When you inhale, it pulls down to help let air into the lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and air flows out of the lungs, through the nose and mouth.

When you eat too much or too quickly, the diaphragm is irritated because it can’t work normally. As a result, the air enters the voice box instead of your lungs. So, your vocal cords close and the air escapes with a big hiccup.


  • Why do hiccups hurt?

Hiccups hurt a bit

Hiccups hurt your chest and your stomach sometimes.

The main reason why hiccups hurt is because they are caused by a violent shake (spasm) in the diaphragm, which is a muscle. And these muscle spasms hurt a little.

Another reason is that sometimes hiccups can bring a small amount of acid up from the stomach into your oesophagus. It brings a lot of discomfort. But don’t worry, your food pipe is safe! Doctors say that when that acid comes up into the oesophagus (food pipe), it can cause a burning sensation. 

Sometimes, you also burp when you hiccup! A burp and a hiccup- that’s gross, isn’t it?

  • How to make hiccups stop?

One of the effective ways to stop hiccups is to blow into a bag

Hiccups are certainly uncomfortable and interfering!

They don’t let you speak, eat or do anything continuously. They constantly interrupt all the activities that you want to do.  And sometimes, they can last several minutes. You would certainly want them to stop, right? 

Here are certain things that you can do:

  • Breathe into a paper bag (do not put it over your head)
  • Pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward.
  • Sip very cold water
  • Bite on a lemon
  • Hold your breath for a short time

Sometimes, you may have tried to scare your hiccups away. There is a common practice someone prank-scaring you and you get alarmed. It changes the breathing pattern and sets the diaphragm right. It is not as effective as the other methods, but it’s an interesting way to try. 


  • Do animals also hiccup?

    Animals hiccup too

If you look at your pets and wonder if they hiccup as well, they certainly do. 

A lot of animals – kittens, squirrels,  otters , dogs – can have a fit of the hiccups. Their hiccups are not as loud as the humans, though! Since they can happen in any animal that has a diaphragm, all mammals have the tendency to hiccup . However, birds, lizards, snakes and insects don’t hiccup because they don’t have a diaphragm. 

Here are some more questions that your child might have about hiccups:

  • Do babies hiccup?
  • Can you hiccup in your sleep?
  • Why do you hiccup right after you eat?

Explore these questions and share answers with us in the comments.

Also read why do we burp?


About the Author

Aparna is a mom, singer and dreamer. At BYJU'S, she writes stories about learning for children. She believes in the power of music, especially ghazal, the magic of the universe and happy learners. When not writing or singing, you will find her intensely engaged in conversations about life and the power of words.

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