Why Do We Hiccup And How Can You Stop Them?

holding breath

These bad boys can be extremely annoying and come on at some very inconvenient times, but what exactly triggers them?

Hiccups are an involuntary activity of the diaphragm. The muscles used when you breath are the intercostal muscles located in the spaces between the ribs. Two things occur in rapid succession: first there is a quick and involuntary inhalation of air and second as the muscle contracts, the glottis (space between your vocal cords at the top of the larynx) quickly slams shuts which is what makes the “hic” sound.

Science doesn’t even know what the purpose is and there is no obvious function. This isn’t to say there is no definite function, but more so to say it hasn’t been discovered yet if there is one. Perhaps it is a remnant of some evolutionary function that is no longer needed in humans but still lingers. Maybe it is something that we need for development in our bodies when we’re young (fetuses hiccup in the womb after the 8th week from conception) but isn’t necessary later in life as we get older. Children tend to hiccup more often and in fact the chances to trigger this phenomenon declines with age.

One thing is that it is actually possible to hiccup for longer than most of us think. Imagine hiccuping for an entire day non stop? What about a week or even a month?! I remember a while ago when watching TV, there was a show talking about a man who’s be hiccuping for 68 YEARS straight. This poor man apparently hiccuped around 40 times a minute. Now that is tough.

So what on earth actually causes this series of actions to occur? There are a number of theories on why we hiccup with a few of the leading ideas listed below.

Drinking or eating too fast

This is probably the most common trigger. You are so pumped to gulp down that tasty beverage or food you’ve been thinking about all day that you can’t help but chug the sustenance as if there would be nothing left on earth in 10 seconds. You can also swallow air in addition to the intended “payload” to be delivered into the put of your belly. The stomach becomes distended and irritated. The diaphragm ends up contracting like it does when breathing.

Drinking or eating too much

This is especially true with fatty foods or of course drinking alcohol because you feel the need to consume ridiculous amounts proving to everyone how “awesome” you are. Same as above this is an action that can irritate the diaphragm.

Disturbance to the nerve pathways from the brain

Sometimes hiccups can be brought on by temperature changes or emotional situations. On the other hand this is also the reason why an abrupt shock can sometimes “cure” the attack.

A sign of disease or illness

Normally hiccups are just minor annoyances but persistent hiccups can be a sign of disease. Sources suggest that they can be brought on by many ailments including: brain trauma,  spinal cord integrity, infections, lesions, central nervous system conditions, metabolic disorders, peptic ulcers and even anesthesia.

cover mouth guy

So how can I get rid of these buggers once I start hiccuping?

  • Hold your breath (This is the one I use and it almost always works)
  • Breathing into a paper bag
  • Drink a glass of water quickly
  • Get scared or surprised abruptly

Some odd potential cures I’ve heard but have no idea on the validity of them:

  • Swallow a teaspoon of sugar
  • Sip on some lemon juice
  • Put your fingers in your ears to block the canals
  • Use smelling salts
  • Pull hard on your tongue

Conclusion

Even though you might be excited for that special drink or that meal you’ve been craving, take some time and eat slow! Also don’t overload yourself just because it tastes awesome. Try and do your best to drink in moderation.

Chances are those pesky hiccups are in fact going to show up from time to time and you can’t really avoid it until it’s too late but when they do my top 3 suggestions would be to hold your breath, drink a glass of water fast or if you happen to have one laying around you: breathe into a paper bag. If you’re like me you might not think much of the evil hiccups, but when they kick in it’s usually at the most inopportune time and you’re frantically trying to get rid of them!

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Want To Save Money At The Gas Pump?

gas pump

Did you know there are better times to buy gas than others and ways to actually stretch that dollar a little further?

Yesterday I came across some information from a woman who has worked in the petroleum industry for around 31 years. She was gracious enough as to give some helpful tips on how to get the most out of buying gas.

Her workplace works with special equipment and specific measurements using adaptive and precise tools but out in the wild (your everyday normal gas pump) these exact measurements are quite often a little different than what the pump tells you, since using different equipment in workplaces and constructions is always necessary, but accidents could still happen, so is better to check out this new york construction accident lawyer here to protect yourself in case this happen.

Now if you want to get every last drop that you’re already paying for, then here’s a some tips on buying gas the smart way:

Only buy or fill up your tank in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold

All service stations have their storage tanks buried underneath the ground so the colder the ground is, the more dense the gasoline is. When the temperature rises, gasoline expands so if you purchase your fuel in the afternoon or evening your gallon or litre isn’t exactly what it should be.

In the petroleum industry, the temperature and specific gravity plays a significant role regarding gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products. A simple 1 degree rise in temperature is actually a huge deal in this business because these seemingly small fractions end up adding up to big bucks.

The problem is that the standard service stations we go to do not have temperature compensation at the pumps so that’s why it’s best to gas up early in the a.m.

Do not squeeze the nozzle’s trigger all the way when pumping

You want to avoid holding down the trigger all the way even if it is the fastest way to get back on the road. If you inspect how the handle works, you’ll notice that there are essentially 3 modes: low, medium and high. You should always be pumping on low if you want to be efficient. The reason for this is to minimize the vapors that are created while pumping.

Every hose at the pump has a vapor return. When you pump at the fastest rate some of the liquid that goes into your tank ends up becoming vapor. These vapors are then being sucked up and returned back into the underground storage tank, thus you’re not getting as much value as possible.

Fill up when your tank is HALF FULL

Have you ever noticed that if you’re almost on empty and you put in say $20 worth of gas, that it seems to deplete way faster than it does when you have a full tank? I’m talking about the rate at which it drops, not the obvious full vs. quarter filled tank. The reason is because the more gas you have in your tank, the less air there is occupying the empty space.

Gasoline evaporates much faster than most people think. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof that serves as a zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere thus minimizing the evaporation. Take it into account when you are considering bunded vs non bunded tank.

gas truck

Do not fill up when a gasoline truck is refilling the storage tanks

Chances are that while this truck is pumping, the gasoline is being stirred up. The problem is that if you pump your gas while the service truck is pumping, you can end up getting some of the dirt that is normally settled on the bottom which then goes straight into your vehicles tank. Visit their homepage to find out other effective solutions.

Conclusion

If you want the most bang for your buck: pump on the slowest trigger setting  in the early morning when your tank is half full and make sure the service truck isn’t there filling up the storage tank!

Our pumps don’t have compensation devices and technology like the trucks and service stations that the gas originally came from. So depending on if you followed the above advice, the measurements can and will be different than the specific gallon or litre that the pump says you’ve popped into your tank. Happy pumping!

And in the end: we recommend you to check this chemical pump manufacturer and New York construction injury lawyer to assist you in getting a fall injury compensation.

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Don’t Use Q-Tips To Clean Your Ears, How Else?!

qtips pigtails

I’m sure we’ve all been told not to use Q-Tips or at least not to put them far into our ears but how else are we supposed to clean them?!

Ears are naturally developed to be protective and self-cleaning. The wax (cerumen) coats the ear canal and serves to repel water and help protect it against infection or injury. It also aids in keeping the skin inside the ears from drying out or getting itchy in addition to trapping dust, germs and other unwanted things from reaching into the depths of our ears.

In truth we should probably just leave our ears alone and let nature take it’s course. Maybe this would be okay for me if I wasn’t introduced to q-tips and what seemed like their ONLY function was. I mean when someone asks you what you’re supposed to do with a q-tip what do you think of? Maybe it’s cleaning your computer keyboard or using them as makeup brushes because that’s exactly what’s on the back of some of the boxes. Or maybe you’re like me and thought it’s sole purpose is for ear digging!

Now I’ve been scolded and told all the same by my mother while growing up and my girlfriend too, but let’s be honest: How can something that works and feels so good be so wrong?! Well it’s about the potential damage to your eardrum in addition to accidentally pushing wax further into your ear. If wax went too far down you’d have to get it removed by a professional and it might not be the most comfortable thing to do.

Regardless of it feeling good using cotton swabs, it is in fact dangerous and even Q-Tips themselves say not to use them in your ear canal. It’s all about being careful because the last thing you want to do is damage the lining or eardrum by accident. Even washing the outside of your ears is supposed to be avoided. If you must clean them, either use a soft washcloth with a tiny bit of soap or even use Ear candles.  Make sure to dry the ears well as not to get them infected and attract the well known “swimmers ear” especially if you are in the water a lot.

You can check out the following to learn about hearing protection for musicians.

qtips box

Personally I can’t help but carefully use the standard q-tips for my ears, but for those more adventurous and wanting a “safer” way to clean your ears, read on. I did some research on some alternatives and although it seems a bit silly, it would in fact do the trick.

Create A Wax Softening Solution

You can buy a carbamide peroxide cleaning solution from the local pharmacy or you can always make your own.

Combine warm water with one of the following:

  • A teaspoon or two of 3-4% hydrogen peroxide solution
  • A teaspoon or two of mineral oil
  • A teaspoon or two of glycerin

Lie on your side if possible so the ear is completely vertical and put in the solution with an applicator if possible or a small bowl. (Peroxide may cause popping or bubbling sounds so don’t be alarmed, this is normal)

Wait 5-10 minutes or if using peroxide, until the bubbling stops.

Take out the solution and use a rubber bulb syringe with lukewarm water to flush out the wax.

Pull on the ear lobe up and down to open the canal to release the last bit of wax.

You can repeat this process for a few days if necessary but shouldn’t do it more often than this.

ear doctor

See A Specialist

If you’re serious about cleaning your ears safely and are not interested whatsoever in using the home remedy route, then you should consult your doctor or get a professional to take care of it for you. In addition if you suffer from repeat problems, hearing loss or blockage you should seek help from a doctor.

When it’s all said and done, the point is to be careful and avoid causing any harm to your ear canal. The last thing you want to do is permanently damage your ears or have a hard time listening to words, sounds and music!

Do you use Q-Tips in your ears?

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Why Do We Yawn And Why Is It Contagious?

girl yawning

Everybody does it. Sometimes it’s early in the morning, sometimes it’s the middle of the day and your at work or school and sometimes it’s at night. So what actually causes us to yawn?

Yawning is an involuntary action and once you start it’s pretty hard to stop yourself. A yawn is a coordinated movement of the thoracic muscles in the chest, diaphragm, larynx in the throat and palate in the mouth. It coats the lungs with a wetting agent (surfactant) to coat the alveoli (tiny air sacs) in the lungs. We generally cannot yawn on command and it is triggered by neurotransmitters in the hypothalamus of the brain.

Surprisingly even with all the time, science and technology we have today there isn’t a definitive answer! Yes believe it or not, we STILL don’t know exactly why we yawn! There are several leading theories but there aren’t any proven facts that highlight one above others.

Let’s go through a few of the main theories.

Yawning Gives Us More Oxygen And Releases Carbon Dioxide

There are theories on this benefiting the respiratory and circulatory system. Could we need more oxygen in our lungs or do we need to expel more carbon dioxide that has been building up?

Modern day evidence makes it seem unlikely that yawning is a function of the respiratory system though. The circulatory system however could be affected by yawning to increase blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen in the blood thus improving alertness and motor functions.

Yawning Cools The Brain

Recent studies have suggested that yawning could be related to brain temperature (Gallup and Gallup, 2008). Basically when the brain goes beyond the normal temperature, yawning could cool the brain. This may involve the body’s cooler blood flowing into the brain and warm blood circulating out through the jugular vein.

An odd contradictory in my opinion is that you are more likely to yawn in colder temperatures such as winter than in the warmer summer which I’d expect the opposite considering the environments temperature should affect a body as well.

Yawning Stretches The Lungs And Lubricates Them

The idea here is that stretching and yawning may be a way to flex the muscles, joints, increase your heart rate and feel more awake.

Along with this is the theory that yawning is a protective reflex that redistributes surfactant (oily substance) that helps lubricate the lungs and keep them from collapsing. This is supposed to suggest that if we didn’t yawn, taking deep breaths would become increasingly more difficult as time goes on.

Yawning Indicates A Change In Behavioral State

This would be associated with the change from wakefulness to sleep or boredom to alertness for example. This could potentially have a correlation with physical states as well, such as going from exercising or doing some activity like walking to sitting in a chair and not moving much for an extended period of time.

group yawning

So How Come Yawning Is Contagious?

This is an extremely interesting concept and one that tends to be true. If you are in a classroom or in a group of people somewhere and you visibly yawn, more than likely other people will yawn within 5 minutes of you. Even thinking about yawning can start to trigger this contagion.

One idea is that it is a physical signal that our bodies are saying it’s time to sleep or get up kind of like an internal 24 hour clock. If one person is yawning and then other people start yawning because of it, then they all may go to sleep around the same time and thus have a synchronized cycle.

Conclusion

The truth regarding yawning is that it is still a mystery. Even after all the time passed and resources available to us, we still don’t know everything about the eluded “yawn”. Most the theories seem logical and possible so it’s very interesting that a large scale official study has not been conducted to get the 100% correct scientific truth.

For now I’ll just say we yawn because our bodies are telling us we need more sleep to function properly, but that’s just me!

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