Hiccups are a bit of a mystery. Although researchers know how a hiccup occurs, they don’t know exactly why human beings hiccup. Hiccups are an involuntary reflex that start in the womb. Pregnant moms may describe in-utero hiccups as quick, rhythmic sensations lasting from a few seconds to around 10 minutes. However, once the baby is born, hiccups can be concerning to new parents, especially if the child seems uncomfortable or distressed during an episode. The good news is, there are ways not only to treat hiccups in babies but possibly prevent them from occurring.
Understanding the possible reasons why babies hiccup is an important step in treating them. The medical term for hiccups is synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus. Hiccups result from a sudden tightening of the diaphragm, a thin membrane located underneath the rib cage. This membrane separates the chest cavity from the abdomen, and it aids breathing. Sometimes the diaphragm and the voice box suddenly tighten at the same time. At that very moment, a simultaneous closure of the opening between the vocal cords, also known as the glottis, creates a puff of air that rushes in creating the hiccup sound.
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