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Curing hiccups and headaches using scientific methods.

Curing Hiccups And Headaches At Home With Actual Science

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Quick fixes for bodily annoyances

Do you ever find yourself desperately trying to cure hiccups, and advice on the Internet is like “breathe in through your ears while drinking vinegar upside-down through your nose”?

If so, you’re not alone. So, today we’re going to look at some science-based approaches to dealing with common bodily annoyances.

Hiccups

Unfortunately, most popular advices simply don’t work, and the only near-guaranteed way to cure these is with anti-convulsive medications whose side-effects may be worse than the hiccups.

However, before you head to the pharmacy, there is one breathing exercise that has a very simple scientific underpinning: 4:4 breathing. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s just:

  1. Breathe slowly in through your nose to a count of four
  2. Hold your breath for a count of four
  3. Breathe slowly out through your nose to a count of four
  4. Hold your breath for a count of four

…and repeat. The slower the better. At first, your hiccups will interrupt this, but just “keep calm and carry on”.

The reason this can work is that breathing is an autonomic function (e.g., it happens without us thinking about it) that, unlike most other autonomic functions, we can all control directly. By taking control of one, others will tend to fall into line with it.

For example, it is normal that your heart rate will tend to slow or quicken as your breathing slows or quickens, respectively.

Your hiccups? Autonomic function. Actually a very, very old evolutionary left-over trait, that’s only useful for protecting lungs while breathing underwater. In other words, it’s the bodily function thinks you’re a fish (or a tadpole-like amphibious creature) in the process of developing lungs. Unfortunately, because hiccuping doesn’t harm our chances of passing on our genes, it never got naturally de-selected so we still have it.

Anyway, the bottom line is: take control of your breathing in the aspects you can directly control, and the aspects you can’t directly control will fall into line. You may need to give it some minutes, don’t give up too quickly.

Headaches

If you ever get a headache and you don’t have painkillers or perhaps they’re not helping or you have another reason for not wanting to take them, there’s “one quick trick” that can cure most headaches in seconds.

First, the limitation: this will only cure headaches that have been caused by increased localized blood pressure in the forehead. However, that’s more than half of most common headaches.

Next, how it works…

We’re mentioning this first, because understanding how it works will give you more confidence in using it.

Your body has a wonderful homeostatic system, which is the system by which your body maintains its “Goldilocks zones” of not too hot or cold, not to acidine or alkaline, not too hydrated or dehydrated, blood pressure not too high or too low, etc. Sometimes, however, it can get confused, and needs a nudge back to where it should be.

One of the ways it maintains blood pressure is biofeedback from receptors in blood vessel walls, called baroreceptors. They are what it sounds like; they measure blood pressure internally.

In certain places, there are clusters of baroreceptors in one place. And if we press on that one place, the body will think “Oh no! Super high blood pressure in this bit!” and reduce the blood pressure immediately.

This is called the baroreflex, and that’s what you need to cure a hypertensive headache.

So, what to do:

With your thumb, carefully feel the upper inside corner of your eye socket. So, at the top, and about ¼ of the way out from the bridge of your nose. You should feel a groove. No, not like the Emperor’s New, but, an actual groove in your eye socket. That’s the supraorbital notch (or foramen), and it allows the supraorbital artery, veins, and nerve to run through.

Press it firmly (you can do both sides at once, assuming you have two thumbs) for about three seconds, and then massage it gently. Repeat as necessary, but it shouldn’t take more than about three goes to have cured the headache.

As a bonus, this is a great party trick for curing other people’s headaches, when the need arises!

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