There can be many physical consequences that come with eating spicy foods. But along with tears forming in the eyes and a burning mouth, people may not realize that hiccups can often occur if you indulge in a bite of something particularly pungent. From Mexican food to spicy Italian dishes, meals with hot spices or peppers can easily cause your diaphragm to start working overtime as you come down with the case of the hiccups.
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What causes spicy food hiccups?
The answer isn’t as easy as you might guess.
What we do know is that food with a higher level of pungency—or spiciness—can trigger your hiccups. There are a few theories surrounding this phenomenon. One theory is based off the amount of capsaicin found within your food. This compound is thought to be the main culprit in the cause of spicy food hiccups.
Capsaicin is the compound found in hot peppers which causes that intense feeling of heat and irritation in your mouth when you eat one. This compound also causes your food to be more pungent—hence spicier. When you bite into a mouthful of food containing a large amount of capsaicin, it then causes irritation to your diaphragm which then leads to spasms—or hiccups.
Another theory surrounding hiccups states that your diaphragm contracts rapidly in order to release the pungent air out of your lungs, but scientists have yet to prove the actual cause of hiccups due to eating spicy foods.
How to stop hiccups from spicy foods
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to stop these hiccups from occurring. It’s a natural consequence to eating delicious spicy meals. But there are a few options that you can try that are known to help. You’ll need to see which works best for you.
Try drinking a glass of water as soon as your hiccups occur, but if your meal was that hot, you were probably already reaching for that glass anyways. Another option us pulling on your tongue, eating slower or taking an antacid to stop your hiccups. If you choose an antacid, take one that contains magnesium as it helps calm the nerves including those irritated due to spicy foods.
Another common remedy involves breathing slowly into and out of a paper bag. This increases the amount of carbon dioxide in your body and forces your system to concentrate on releasing the CO2 versus continuing to push out hiccups.
While the jury is still out on the exact cause of spicy food hiccups, it’s a normal reflex found throughout the world. Don’t let an occasional bout of hiccups stop you from enjoying the heat in the next meal you bring to the table.
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