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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Whether you were chewing gum, ate a meal too quickly or just downed your favorite soda pop–there’s a good chance a bout of the hiccups may have followed. Sure, they’re annoying and in most cases harmless. But what’s happening to our bodies when we hiccup?

Hiccups might escape from our mouth, but they actually start much lower in the body — in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is characterized as a dome-shaped muscle between a person’s lungs and stomach.

Courtesy of WISH-TV

The diaphragm–in conjunction with the lungs–plays an important role in breathing. Normally, the diaphragm pulls down when you inhale to let air into your lungs, and then relaxes when you exhale so air can flow back out of your lungs to exit your nose and mouth.

But when you hiccup a few things happen. Your diaphragm contracts when it’s not supposed to. The muscle spasms forcing you to suck air into your throat and hit your voice box. The vocal cords then suddenly close and that’s what causes the audible ‘hic’ sound!