We’ve all gotten hiccups at some points of our life, and yet, many of us are still at a loss as to how to deal with them. Not only are they annoying, but they can also pose as a bit of an embarrassment on social events. Just imagine if, gasp, you’re out on a first date and you feel the tickling of your first hiccups coming! You’ll have no more of such social faux pas once you learn how to get rid of hiccups in these 40 quick and easy ways!
What Causes Hiccups
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm involuntarily convulses. A diaphragm is a very important muscle inside our body that helps us to breathe. The vagus nerve, which helps in the breathing and swallowing process, causes the diaphragm to contract. When the diaphragm suddenly contracts, this abrupt change in pressure closes our vocal cords briefly, producing the distinctive “hic” sound.
Hiccups are generally due to several lifestyle factors:
- Drinking or eating too much
- Eating too fast
- Eating hot and spicy food
- Taking in too much air by smoking cigarettes or chewing gum
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Drinking alcohol
- Extreme emotions like excitement or stress
- Sudden and extreme changes in temperature
Can Hiccups be a Sign of Something Serious
You might be wondering, can hiccups be a sign of something serious? The good news is, most are not. Most cases of hiccups resolve on their own after a short period.
But if your hiccups persist after 48 hours or causes breathing, eating, or sleeping difficulties, don’t hesitate to make a doctor’s appointment. They may be symptoms of a more serious condition, such as a tumor, stroke, diabetes, or kidney disease.
You may also develop chronic hiccups if you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or if you have prolonged stress or anxiety issues.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups Fast
Now that you know what causes hiccups, it’s time to learn to how to get rid of your hiccups immediately instead of waiting for them to go away. While most of these hiccup cures are not scientifically proven, scientists have found that the cures generally work because of two mechanisms.
Firstly, some techniques involve the increasing carbon dioxide levels, such as breathing into a paper bag or holding your breath. These methods work at times, though scientists have not found the exact reason why they work. Some suggest that hiccups may be caused by low carbon dioxide levels in the body, especially since hiccups also occur when you take in too much air. Others see it as a way of distracting the brain to focus on the danger of carbon dioxide accumulation.
Second, some hiccup cures stimulate the vagus nerve. These hiccup cures, from drinking vinegar to plugging your ears, create a dramatic change in feeling. Thus, when you stimulate this nerve, it sends signals to the brain to focus on the new sensation.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups with Food and Drinks
Many people swear by drinking water, you will be able to stop hiccups immediately. But it is not as simple as just chugging a glass of water. You have to know the right way to drink to cure your hiccups.
- Drink water while holding your breath: Take about 10 quick sips of water while you hold your breath. When you drink in quick succession, it contracts your diaphragm which eases it.
- Drink ice cold water: Cold water is said to relax the diaphragm movement. Remember your water has to be ice cold, not just chilled.
- Bend down and drink: Bend over as far as possible to calm your diaphragm and drink.
- Drink water with a straw: Technically speaking, the method should be called hold your breath, plug your ears, and drink. But it is a humanly impossible feat to achieve all these at once, so you’ll require a straw. Sip through a straw while holding your breath and sticking your fingers in your ears. Try to finish the glass of water if you can.
- Drink water through a cloth or paper towel: Use a cloth or paper towel to cover the top of a glass and wrap the edges down to ensure water doesn’t escape when you drink. Take a sip of water through the paper towel.
- Gargle water: Gargling can also help with your hiccups by stimulating the vagus nerve. Try to gargle as long as you can.
- Drink your water upside-down: This is a tricky method that requires some practice to perfect it. First, take a glass of water and bend over. Place your lips on the opposite side of the glass from where you’d normally drink. Then try to drink in an upside-down way by tilting the glass downwards as you drink.
- Suck on an ice cube: Suck on the ice cube until it melts completely in your mouth.
Eat Sweet Food
- Eat a spoonful of sugar: A sweet remedy for sweet lovers. The grainy texture of sugar is said to stimulate the vagus nerve. A 1971 study found that eating a spoonful of granulated sugar helped to get rid of hiccups for 19 out of 20 patients.
- Eat some chocolate powder: Those with a sweet tooth, you’ll be happy for another excuse to dig into something sweet. You can take a spoonful of cocoa or any chocolate drink mix powder of your choice. The powder makes it harder to swallow, which interrupts your swallowing pattern and relieves your hiccups.
- Take some honey: Honey soothes the vagus nerve. Take a teaspoon of honey and wait for it to dissolve in your mouth for a while before swallowing. Honey is also rich in antioxidants which are good for your heart and blood pressure, among a horde of other benefits.
Eat Sour Food
- Swallow a spoonful of vinegar: Those who want a sour alternative can take a teaspoonful of vinegar. A case report in 2015 even found evidence that vinegar helped to relieve persistent hiccups. Try apple cider vinegar for its health benefits.
- Drink dill pickle juice: If you want to try the vinegar treatment but you can’t stand the taste of vinegar, try dill pickle juice. Dill pickle juice contains vinegar and brings you a trove of health benefits, from boosting your immune system to aiding weight loss.
- Suck on a lemon: Every bartender’s favorite cure, this hiccup cure is found to work on 14 out of 16 patients, according to a study in 1981. Pair it with non-alcoholic bitters and you will thoroughly enjoy this hiccup cure.
Eat Sticky Food
- Take some peanut butter: The sticky texture of peanut butter makes you work harder at chewing and removing the stuck peanut butter from the roof of your mouth. This process disrupts your swallowing and breathing, hence helping you to stop your hiccups.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups using Breathing Techniques
- Hold your breath: Hold your breath for as long as you can to let carbon dioxide amass in your lungs and ease your diaphragm.
- Inhale a deep breath using your diaphragm: When you breathe using your diaphragm instead of your lungs, you can stretch your diaphragm and relax it. You will know if you are using your diaphragm to breathe by placing your hand over your abdomen and feel it expand as you breathe in. Then exhale slowly.
- Practise controlled breathing: Breathe in and out in a slow measured manner by holding your breath for about 10 seconds and exhaling slowly. Repeat this controlled breathing exercise about 3 to 4 times.
- Take one deep breath followed by many small breaths: Start by taking one deep breath in and out. Next keeping inhaling short shallow breaths till you can’t suck any more air into your lungs, then exhale slowly.
- Lean forward as you exhale: By leaning forward when you exhale, you actually compress your chest which exerts pressure on your diaphragm.
- Hold your breath, swallow twice, then exhale: Inhale deeply and hold your breath. Swallow twice while holding your breath, and then breathe out through your nose.
- Breathe into a paper or plastic bag: Hold the paper or plastic bag to your mouth and ensure that no air will escape when you breathe from it. Breathe slowly and deeply into the bag, but stop immediately if you start feeling dizzy! Remember, none of these techniques are foolproof, so you can always try another if it doesn’t suit you.
- Cover your nose and mouth: Cup your hands over your nose and mouth and breathe through them. The raised level of carbon dioxide will stop your hiccups.
- Execute the Valsalva maneuver technique: Valsalva maneuver is a breathing method that helps with a multitude of problems, from slowing an unusually fast heart rate to popping plugged ears. You can carry out this simple technique easily by simply pinching your nose and exhaling while keeping your mouth shut for around 15 seconds. You have to be careful with this method however, don’t do it too forcefully, and don’t repeat it.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups using Pressure Points
Applying pressure on pressure points actually send ‘relax’ signals to the vagus nerve, thus relieving you of your hiccups.
- Press above your lip: Press a finger on your philtrum, which is the area between your nose tip and upper lip. Press down on the spot firmly and push inwards. Apply pressure to this spot for about 30 seconds before letting go.
- Plug your ears: Stick your fingers into your ears for about 30 seconds, or press at a soft point behind your earlobes behind the edge of your jaw.
- Apply pressure on your eyeballs: Close your eyes and press down lightly on your closed eyelids for about 30 seconds.
- Massage the sides of your neck: First, find your carotid arteries. They are found on the left and right side of your neck, where you can feel your pulse beating. Then, rub at these points for about 10 seconds.
- Rub the back of your neck: Rub the back of your neck for around 20 seconds.
- Pull on your tongue: First, you slowly breathe in, and as you breathe out, stick out your tongue. Then use your fingers to gently tug on your tongue. Don’t pull on it so hard till it hurts!
- Squeeze your pinky finger: Place two fingers between your pinky fingertip, and squeeze down hard on the fingertip for about 10 seconds.
- Press down on your palm: Press down hard on the palm of your hand with the thumb of your other hand for around 10 seconds.
- Press below your breastbone: Your breastbone, or sternum, which is a flat bone in the middle of your chest that connects your ribs. Use your fingertip to trace the bone down to the end where you can feel a hollow space and press down firmly for around 30 seconds.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups with Movement
- Abdominal exercise: Lie on your back and bend your knees. Pull your knees to your chest and grasp them firmly with your hands. While in this position, pull yourself forward into a crunch. Hold this position for around two minutes.
- Hug your knees: Sit down with your knees propped up, then slowly bring your knees to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knees and hold this position for two minutes. You compress your chest when you pull your knees in, which calm your diaphragm.
- Try coughing: Make yourself cough for about two to three times. When you cough, air is forced out of your lungs. It may also stimulate the vagus nerve.
- Make yourself burp: If you have the innate talent to burp on whenever you want, try burping to relieve your hiccups. Don’t ever try drinking carbonated drinks to induce burping, for the fizz in the drinks will cause you to hiccup instead.
- Trigger your gag reflex: It may be an uncomfortable way to stop hiccups, but if you’re desperate enough, you can try pushing your finger to the back of your throat to make yourself gag. Your gag reflex will then stimulate the vagus nerve.
Alternative Ways to Stop Your Hiccups
- Distract yourself: There are many ways you can distract yourself, and you’ll find that your hiccups disappear when you’re no longer focused on curing them. You can either find an engaging task to do or simply use the old adage of scaring yourself, which actually serves as a mental distraction.
- Have an orgasm: There simply isn’t a sexier way to put an end to something so annoying. A case study in 2000 showed that a man’s hiccups which lasted for several days ended instantly after he had an orgasm. There aren’t any studies proving likewise for female orgasms, but there is certainly no harm in trying this method.
There you have it, 40 fast and simple ways to get rid of your hiccups! Let us know which method works best for you!