Overview of hiccups
Hiccups often occur suddenly and can quickly become annoying. This prompts people to try all sorts of unusual and creative ideas to get rid of them. It comes as no surprise that discussions and theories on how to treat hiccups are abundant on Google search page.
Here we will focus primarily on how to get rid of hiccups.
All of the methods featured are taken from public health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the British National Health Service (NHS).
Facts on hiccups:
- Eating or drinking too quickly often causes hiccups.
- They usually resolve on their own with no medical intervention required.
- Hiccups affect everyone, from babies to older adults.
Almost everyone’s had hiccups at one time or another. While hiccups usually go away on their own within a few minutes, they can be annoying and interfere with eating and talking.
People have come up with an endless list of tricks to get rid of them, from breathing into a paper bag to eating a spoonful of sugar. But which remedies actually work?
There aren’t many studies that evaluate the effectiveness of different hiccup remedies. However, many of them are backed by centuries of anecdotal evidence. In addition, some of the most popular remedies actually stimulate your vagus or phrenic nerves, which are connected to your diaphragm.
Causes of Hiccups
Hiccups happen when your diaphragm begins to spasm involuntarily. Your diaphragm is a large muscle that helps you breathe in and out. When it spasms, you inhale suddenly and your vocal cords snap shut, which causes a distinctive sound.
In most cases, they come and go quickly. Lifestyle factors that may cause hiccups include:
- eating too much or too quickly
- carbonated drinks
- spicy foods
- being stressed or emotionally excited
- drinking alcohol
- being exposed to quick changes in temperature
>>Also read this: causes of Hiccups
Getting rid of hiccups
These tips are meant for short bouts of hiccups. If you have chronic hiccups that last for more than 48 hours, talk with your doctor. This may be a sign of an underlying condition requiring treatment.
Breathing and posture techniques
Sometimes, a simple change in your breathing or posture can relax your diaphragm.
- Practice measured breathing. Disrupt your respiratory system with slow, measured breathing. Breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five.
- Hold your breath. Inhale a large gulp of air and hold it for about 10 to 20 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat as necessary.
- Breathe into a paper bag. Place a paper lunch bag over your mouth and nose. Slowly breathe in and out, deflating and inflating the bag. Never use a plastic bag.
- Hug your knees. Sit down in a comfortable place. Bring your knees to your chest and hold them there for two minutes.
- Compress your chest. Lean or bend forward to compress your chest, which puts pressure on your diaphragm.
- Use the Valsalva maneuver. To do this maneuver, try to exhale while pinching your nose and keeping your mouth closed.
Pressure points are areas of your body that are particularly sensitive to pressure. Applying pressure to these points with your hands may help to relax your diaphragm or stimulate your vagus or phrenic nerves.
- Pull on your tongue. Pulling on your tongue stimulates the nerves and muscles in your throat. Grab the tip of your tongue and gently pull it forward once or twice.
- Press on your diaphragm. Your diaphragm separates your abdomen from your lungs. Use your hand to apply pressure to the area just below the end of your sternum.
- Squeeze your nose closed while swallowing water.
- Squeeze your palm. Use your thumb to apply pressure to the palm of your other hand.
- Massage your carotid artery. You have a carotid artery on both sides of your neck. It’s what you feel when you check your pulse by touching your neck. Lie down, turn your head to the left, and massage the artery on the right side in a circular motion for 5 to 10 seconds.
>>Also read this: causes of Hiccups
Things to eat or drink
Eating certain things or changing the way you drink may also help to stimulate your vagus or phrenic nerves.
- Drink ice water. Slowly sipping cold water may help stimulate the vagus nerve.
- Drink from the opposite side of the glass. Tip the glass up under your chin to drink from the far side.
- Slowly drink a glass of warm water without stopping to breathe.
- Drink water through a cloth or paper towel. Cover a glass of cold water with a cloth or paper towel and sip through it.
- Suck on an ice cube. Suck on the ice cube for a few minutes, then swallow it once it shrinks to a reasonable size.
- Gargle ice water. Gargle ice water for 30 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
- Eat a spoonful of honey or peanut butter. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth a bit before swallowing.
- Eat some sugar. Put a pinch of granulated sugar on your tongue and let it sit there for 5 to 10 seconds, then swallow.
- Suck on a lemon. Some people add a bit of salt to their lemon slice. Rinse out your mouth with water to protect your teeth from the citric acid.
- Put a drop of vinegar on your tongue.
Unusual but proven studies
You might not be familiar with these methods, but both are backed by scientific case studies.
- Have an orgasm. There’s an old case study involving a man whose hiccups lasted for four days. They immediately went away after he had an orgasm.
- Perform a rectal massage. Another case study reports that a man with ongoing hiccups found immediate relief after a rectal massage. Using a rubber glove and plenty of lubricant, insert a finger into the rectum and massage.
Prevention of Hiccups
Certain triggers cause most cases of hiccups. Avoiding these triggers can reduce the risk of hiccups occurring; these triggers include:
- eating or drinking too quickly
- drinking alcohol
- eating spicy foods
- a sudden change of temperature in the stomach caused by eating or drinking
- extreme emotions
- swallowing air while chewing gum
If hiccups are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as GERD, treating that condition can prevent them.