Thank your diaphragm, the muscle beneath the lungs that helps you breathe, for the loud “hic!” sound that appears at the most inopportune moments. When the diaphragm contracts involuntarily, the top of your windpipe closes immediately, causing the common hiccup noise. Eating too quickly, drinking too much alcohol, or taking certain medications have been associated with hiccups, though the exact cause is still unclear. “Anything that causes your stomach to become distended can cause hiccups,” says gastroenterologist Timothy Pfanner, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, in College Station, TX. Unlike other uncontrollable reflexes such as sneezing or coughing, there is no clear, useful purpose for hiccups. Short bouts are harmless, but persistent hiccups that last for more than 48 hours could be a sign of a more serious health issue and should be evaluated, says Dr. Pfanner. This could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, as this one university student learned.
Whistling in your nose
If you’d rather not whistle while you work (or breathe), a squeaky nose can be a major annoyance. It is typically a sign of airflow obstruction, which may mean excess mucus is covering the nasal passages. A decongestant (for a cold) or an antihistamine (for allergies) can help clear out the gunk. See a doctor if you experience whistling after nasal trauma. It could be a tear in the cartilage between the nostrils, which is usually repairable.
Wheezing with coughing
Cough, cough, wheeze. If this sounds familiar, you could have asthma. Allergens inflame the airway, squeezing the muscles around it and leaving you short of breath. If you experience coughing and wheezing only at the gym, you may have exercise-induced asthma. See a doctor whenever you experience coughing and wheezing together, or if you have a cough that lasts for more than four weeks or wakes you up at night (which could be signs of untreated asthma or acid reflux). Next, read about the biggest unsolved mysteries about the human body.