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When Are Hiccups More Than Hiccups?

July 16, 2021

That’s what people following the news in Brazil are asking this week.

Why?

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro
Isac Nóbrega/PR, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The sixty-six-year-old president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was admitted into the hospital after persistent hiccups for more than ten days. The president wasn’t just examined because of his hiccups though. In 2018, he was attacked and stabbed in the intestine, causing him continued health problems. He’s currently undergoing treatment and is expected to recover soon.

What Are Hiccups?

In this case, hiccups actually turned out to be a useful clue to indicate other health issues, but hiccups are actually involuntary contractions. The action causes vocal cords to close, causing that hiccuping noise. So, do hiccups have a purpose? If they last for short periods of time, no, but hiccups that last longer can potentially point to a more serious health concern, so sometimes they do have a purpose!