Hiccups often occur out of the blue and can quickly become bothersome, leading us to try all sorts of unusual and creative ideas to get rid of them. So, it comes as no surprise that discussions and theories on how to treat hiccups are abundant on the Internet. For this reason, it can make it difficult to separate the recommended methods from the old wives' tales.
If you would like more detailed information on hiccups, their causes, symptoms and possible complications, read our article What Are Hiccups? What Causes Hiccups?. This article focuses specifically on how to get rid of hiccups. All of the methods listed are researched from public health authorities such as the NHS (UK) and CDC.
In the majority of cases, hiccups resolve on their own within a few hours. Sometimes, however, they may persist and become a nuisance. Rarely, hiccups may require medical treatment.
Hiccups are medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF) or singultus.
A hiccup occurs when the diaphragm suddenly contracts involuntarily, while at the same time the larynx (voice box) contracts too and the glottis closes, effective blocking the flow of air.
Below are some tips for dealing with a bout of hiccups that you can do on your own:
Breathing in and holding your breath can help alleviate hiccups.
- Breath in and hold your breath for about ten seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat three or four times. Then do it again twenty minutes later.
- Breathe into a paper bag (do not cover your head with the bag)
- Bring your knees to your chest and hug them for a couple of minutes
- Gargle with iced water
- Drink from the far side of the glass - stand up, bend over and put your mouth on the opposite side of the glass. As you bend, tilt the glass away from you and drink
- Gently compress your chest, this can be achieved by leaning forward
- Place a couple of drops of vinegar in your mouth
- Place gentle pressure on your nose while you swallow
- Place granulated sugar in your mouth. When it melts, swallow it
- Press your diaphragm gently
- Sip very cold water slowly
- Drink a glass of warm water very slowly, all the way down without breathing
- Take a thin slice of lemon, place it on your tongue and suck it like a sweet
- Burping - some people find that if they consume a fizzy drink and burp, their hiccups go away. However, some doctors warn that sodas may trigger hiccups.
- Waiting - in the vast majority of cases, hiccups go away on their own. Some say that by simply waiting and not worrying about them, the problem is likely to resolve more quickly
- Pull your tongue - hold the end of your tongue with your fingers and tug. This stimulates the vagus nerve and eases diaphragm spasms, which may sometimes stop hiccups (this often does not work)
If the hiccups are caused by an underlying condition, treating that condition may help get rid of them.
Prescription medications for hiccups
If the hiccups are persistent and long-term, your Doctor may prescribe a medication, especially if you are unable to eat properly and are losing weight, have insomnia, or have signs and symptoms of clinical depression. The following drugs are known to help people with persistent hiccups:
- baclofen (Lioresal) - a muscle relaxant
- chlorpromazine - an antipsychotic medication
- gabapentin - initially used for treating epilepsy, it is now prescribed for neuropathic pain and hiccups
- haloperidol - an antipsychotic medication
- metoclopramide (Reglan) - a medication used for the treatment of nausea
This video from eHow discusses some of the methods we have featured for getting rid of hiccups.