Body Odd

Leg cramps to hiccups: Help for weird symptoms

May 14, 2014 at 1:00 PM ET

Video: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez joins TODAY to help you get to the bottom of such quirky physical issues as hiccups, eye twitches and charley horses.

Ever wake up in the middle of the night with an excruciating leg pain? Or does your eye twitch randomly for what feels like hours on end?

Well, don't worry. Here's the 411 on some odd things our bodies do, from Dr. Jorge Rodriguez

Hiccups

They're an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm, which is the big, skin-like muscle that separates the bottom of the lungs from the abdominal cavity. It is believed there is a reflex arc that keeps the diaphragm expanding and that is what allows us to breathe. 

When that is broken, there is a spasming of the diaphragm that causes air to be pulled down our throat, making that hiccup noise. 

Anything that irritates the diaphragm — stress, fear, excitement, caffeine, spicy foods, eating too fast or carbonated beverages — can cause hiccups. 

There are a lot of home remedies for hiccups, including getting frightened, drinking from the back side of the glass, drinking water while holding your breath and salt on the tongue. There's no magic, you just want a different stimulation that just sort of reboots your computer, to keep that diaphragm from spasming. 

Eye twitches

When your nervous system goes a little haywire, you can have an uncontrollable eye twitch. It does not mean there's anything pathologically wrong. Caffeine, nicotine, anything that stimulates the nerve can cause an eye twitch. Stress is a big cause. Simple things — if your eyes are dry, you can wet them. You can cut down on caffeine. Sometimes it helps if you put a warm compress to your eye for awhile. 

Don't worry about a hiccup or a twitch unless it lasts over two days. 

Crying when you cut onions

There's an enzyme in the onion, and when you cut it, it lets out a gas. One thing you can do is wear goggles — not very attractive, but effective. 

Control the tears by cooling down the onion. Or freeze it. Or put it in cold water and cut with a very sharp knife. The more you macerate those onions, the fewer the tears. 

Charley horse or leg pain

If you have you have restless sleep, your muscles stay contracted and that causes the charley horse. 

To ease the leg cramps, eat things that are high in magnesium, potassium and calcium. If you have a charley horse while you're sleeping, slowly press the leg in the opposite direction. If it goes up, slowly pull it down and put some warm water on it. 


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