Both hiccups and burps are annoying noises that many people make. Kids frequently get in trouble for burping in public or having burping contest. Kids aren’t the only ones who have the hiccups or have to burp, even adults and babies experience these body actions. In fact, even animals and birds use this function for many different purposes. Hiccups and burps both seem to come from the mouth but neither actually come from the mouth. They come from two completely different areas of the body. These actions probably began when animals were created, but they were not important until kids started calling attention to them by having contest to see who could burp the loudest or longest.
What is a BURP?
A burp, sometimes called a belch, is nothing but air escaping from the stomach. When you eat or drink, you don't just swallow food or liquids. You also swallow air at the same time.
The medical term for a burp or belch is "Eructation."
Dictionaries describe eructation as "the voiding or getting rid of gas or of a small quantity of acid fluid from the stomach through the mouth."
Sometimes when you swallow air while eating or drinking, it needs to get out. That's where burping comes in! Extra air is forced out of the stomach, up through the esophagus, ( the food tube that connects the back of the throat to the stomach), and out of the mouth as a burp.
Other times it can be caused by swallowing air when nervous or by eating too fast. To relieve discomfort in the stomach, the air is regurgitated as wind. Belching may also be a symptom of Indigestion.
Normally the air in the stomach is passed downstream into the intestines. Belching occurs when the stomach air, instead of going down, goes up into the esophagus and is expelled through the mouth. When the one way valve between the esophagus and the stomach is relaxed and allows the regurgitation of the air to go up into the esophagus and out through the mouth, it makes a burp sound.
Ideas about belching vary from country to country. While it is considered to be rude and poor manners in the United States, a belch after a good meal is considered to be a compliment for the chef in some eastern cultures.
Certain drinks like pop have gases in them for taste, but when you drink them those gases go into your stomach along with the pop. Just like when you shake a bottle of pop, those gas bubbles escape and build up pressure in the stomach.
And just like when you open that bottle of pop, when the stomach valve (called the esophageal sphincter) opens it lets the pressure out, but it doesn’t open all at once. Like a balloon, when you blow it up and then stretch the filler neck, it squeals because the sphincter opens and closes very fast just like the neck of the balloon. Some burps are like a small balloon with a little bit of air, bursting where the air escapes very quickly. Others are like really big balloons with a lot of air and a really tight valve. They last a long time.
When I was 6 years old my doctors found out that the valve between my stomach and my esophagus didn’t close tightly, this is called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Not only was I sick a lot but I couldn’t stop burping.
The doctors wrapped my stomach around my esophagus and stitched it up to help keep it closed. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to burp because the valve would be too tight and my muscles wouldn’t be able to open it to burp. The doctors were WRONG!
It is interesting that some birds use burps as their mating call.
Babies almost always swallow a lot of air while they are "eating". They suck so hard on the nipple to get the milk that they also get a lot of air. Then their moms help them burp by patting them on the back. Babies are the only people who don’t get in trouble for burping.
Some easy ways to prevent swallowing air and avoid burping are eating slowly, not chewing gum, avoiding carbonated beverages, mints, onions, chocolates, alcohol. Stress reduction and relaxation normally help to avoid or decrease belching better than eating slowly, not chewing gum, or decreasing foods like onions, chocolates, and alcohol. It is interesting that some birds use burps as their mating call.
What is a Hiccup?
After reading several articles about hiccups, I realized that I couldn’t say it any better than this description I found at http:\\kidshealth.org\kid\talk\qa\hiccup.html.
The origin of a hiccup is a muscle spasm in the diaphragm. This spasm sucks air rapidly and uncontrollably toward the lungs, slamming the unprepared epiglottis shut and producing the slight thunk of a hiccup
Hiccups can be caused by some things that irritate the diaphragm like eating too quickly or too much, an irritation in the stomach or the throat, or feeling nervous or excited. Almost all cases of the hiccups last only a few minutes. Some cases of the hiccups can last for days or weeks, but this is very unusual, and it is usually a sign of another medical problem. It is generally believed that hiccups have no useful function except maybe to entertain people at parties.
Some common ways to get rid of hiccups are breathing into a paper bag, drinking from the "wrong" side of a glass of water, putting sugar under your tongue and maybe the most famous treatment - having someone jump out and scare you when you're not expecting it. Hiccups usually end soon after they start no matter which home remedy is tried.
In conclusion I think that hiccups and burps have no useful purposes for people. Sometimes they may help relieve gas pains but the noise has no use. Some people have created "interesting" uses for these functions like burp-kus which are just poems about burping or "songs" that can be burped, but most people would agree that burps and hiccups are annoying to just about everyone.