It doesn’t happen to everyone.
So, why do you battle hiccups whenever you add a little Mad Dog to your meal? Are you somehow allergic to chili peppers and the sweet but painful burn of super hot sauces? Do hiccups mean something sinister is about to happen?
Probably not. Allergic reactions are usually a lot more severe than a couple of hiccups, even if you battle the more violent kind. But, hiccups typically don’t hurt you physically; they’re usually just uncomfortable and socially awkward to deal with.
So, why do you get them when you’ve just had even the tiniest amount of Mad Dog from the tip of a toothpick?
Short answer: we don’t know.
Long answer: even scientists and doctors don’t know; it’s all conjecture. But, this is what they believe happens:
The stuff inside chili peppers that makes them seem stupidly hot when you come into contact with them is called capsaicin. The stuff inside you that makes you feel that imaginary heat is TRPV1 pain receptors. Put the two together, and you get a reaction. And, yes, it’s just you doing the reacting; capsaicin just continues on with its business of inflicting intense, through ephemeral pain.
That much is known.
What they must speculate on are the hiccups themselves, and why some people always get them when they consume chili peppers and hot sauces.
It’s thought that hiccups are involuntary spasms, reactions of a sort, in your diaphragm which are then followed by your glottis closing. (Your glottis is your vocal cords and the space between them.) The hiccup sound is that of incoming air striking the glottis.
The link between Mad Dog hot sauces and hiccups lies in TRPV1 receptors found in your diaphragm. As the capsaicin spreads through your body and into your diaphragm, you likely (but remember, we don’t know for sure) trigger an involuntary spasm resulting in hiccups.
As for what you can do about it, we suggest a glass of milk. It won’t do anything for your hiccups (no one has worked out any absolute cure there), but it will dissipate the pain from the Mad Dog.