What Are Hiccups?

ThinkstockPhotos-80619369A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary spasm of our diaphragm muscle. When our diaphragm abruptly contracts, our vocal cords close, resulting in the very familiar “hic” sound. Although there is no conclusive reason why we get hiccups, but eating or drinking too quickly are believed to be contributing factors.

There are many theories on how to stop an episode of hiccups. They include:
• Holding your breath
• Drinking a glass of water quickly
• Pulling hard on your tongue
• Biting on a lemon
• Gargling with water
• Drinking from the far side of the glass
• Getting scared

In most cases hiccups are just a temporary, minor annoyance, although there was one reported case of someone having the hiccups for six decades. If hiccups last more than three hours, or if they disturb eating or sleeping, call your doctor immediately as it may signal another medical problem.

Fun Fact Friday: How Much Paper Does Jamaica Hospital Recycle Every Year?

Jamaica Hospital Fun Fact:

Jamaica Hospital and its partners in the MediSys Health Network understand the importance of “Going Green” to help the planet.

Paper and cardboard

A few years ago we established EcoMediSys, a committee of hospital employees responsible for evaluating how the hospital could become more environmentally conscious. One of the many ways we have achieved our goals is through our paper usage.

In 2010, Jamaica Hospital printed over 19 million copies of paper. Thanks to the implementation of an electronic medical records system and incorporating other operating efficiencies, we have reduced that amount to just over 6 million last year – a reduction of over 300 percent.

In addition, we increased our recycling efforts. According to our most recent data, Jamaica Hospital now recycles an average of over 240,000 pounds of paper annually.

Paper usage is just one example of how Jamaica Hospital is dedicated to helping the environment.

Does Our Nose and Our Ears Really Continue to Grow as We Age?

At some point in your life, someone has probably shared with you a little nugget of wisdom about how our nose and our ears never stop growing. You might then look around and see a bunch of senior citizens and notice that, in-fact, their facial appendages are slightly larger than their younger counterparts and believe this fact to be true…but is it?

ThinkstockPhotos-503387376The truth is that “Yes”, as we age, our nose and our ears do get bigger, but not because they are growing. The real reason is a common scientific force known as GRAVITY. You see, our nose and our ears are made of cartilage and while many people mistakenly believe that cartilage never stops growing, the fact is cartilage does stop growing. However, cartilage is made of collagen and other fibers that begin to break down as we age.

The result is drooping. So what appears to be growth is just gravity doing its job. Our noses and our earlobes sag and become larger. Adding to the misconception is what happens to other parts of our face. While our nose might sag, our cheeks and lips actually lose volume, making everything else look comparatively larger.

Unfortunately, aging – and gravity – are both unavoidable. Our only defense against this natural occurrence is finding the fountain of youth or moving to the moon.

What is a Brain Freeze?

“SPHENOPALATINE GANGLIONEURALGIA!!!” We’re guessing you have never heard anyone yell that out after licking an ice cream cone or slurping down a frozen beverage. Perhaps you have heard someone scream “Brain Freeze” though, the more common term for this scientific condition.

Man eating ice cream cone

A brain freeze usually occurs after a cold food or beverage touches the roof of the mouth (your palate). This sudden temperature change of the tissue stimulates nerves, causing rapid dilation and swelling of the blood vessels. This response is an attempt to direct blood to the area and warm it back up. The “headache” that follows is triggered when the pain receptors in your mouth signal your brain using the nerves in your face. The end result is a sudden, sharp pain and the usual exclamation that is synonymous with this phenomenon.

A brain freeze, also referred to as an ice cream headache, can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration. Brain freezes can occur as frequently in the summer as they do in the winter because the brain’s response is to the food being consumed, not to the temperature outside.

To avoid getting a brain freeze it is recommended that you eat slowly because this reaction is triggered by an immediate temperature change in the mouth. If you do suffer a brain freeze, try pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth to warm the blood vessels. Other suggested tricks include holding your head back or breathing in through mouth and out through the nose to pass warmer air through the nasal passages.

With the weather getting warmer and more people indulging in ice cream and other frozen treats, expect to hear someone yelling out “Brain Freeze” soon. When they do, be sure to share your new found knowledge about this common sensation.