10 Ways to Get Rid of Annoying Hiccups Fast
Don't you hate it when you get a case of the hiccups that just won't go away? If you can catch it right away after the first one, they seem to be easier to deal with—but if that second one comes dread sets in because you know you're about to have a fight on your hands.
The spasms that cause them are soon out of control, and before you know it you are frustrated, perhaps saying a few choice words, and trying everything under the sun to just make it stop. Gallons of water, paper bags, hopping up and down while patting your head and rubbing your stomach, throwing yourself down the stairs – whatever it takes, just make them go away! Well, ok, so maybe not that extreme – but the desire to make them stop is sometimes strong enough that you might be tempted if you thought such things would work.
I have a long history with this annoying affliction. I used to get them several times a week as a kid. As an adult I still find I get them every couple of months or so, but I have learned now what works and what doesn't when it comes to getting rid of them. Some things work better than others of course.
Why do we Get Hiccups?
There are many speculations, and not a lot of consensus - in medical terminology it means no one really knows for sure and there are multiple possible causes.
I'm no expert, but this is what I think contributes to mine. Every person is different though...
I have come to the conclusion that I am more likely to get hiccups when I am dehydrated or thirsty. Why? I have no idea and no scientific proof, but I have learned after nearly 40 years on this planet, that when I get them, it's usually during a time frame where I haven't had water for awhile. I also have a hiatal hernia, inherited from my mother's side of the family, that I suspect (but can't prove) may make me more prone to the embarrassing, painful esophageal spasms from hell, so innocently referred to as “hiccups”. I know that most of the time when I get them now, I am awakened by them in the middle of the night. Again, not sure why—but, if you think hiccups are annoying midday, try waking up with a violent case of them at 3 in the morning.
So, having had a vast amount of experience with them over the years, and no way to know what exactly triggers them, I have obviously worked through my share of old wives' tales, home remedies, and probably a few things people just made up to see if I'd be stupid enough to try.
1. Spoonful of Sugar
Swallow a spoonful of sugar. This was my grandma's favorite remedy when I was growing up. What a great treatment to give a kid right? Shove a spoonful of sugar straight into them and when it didn't work the first time, do it again—and then send them home with their grateful parents to burn off the sugar buzz.
This trick, surprisingly, did work a lot of the time. It wasn't the sugar itself of course, but the act of swallowing something that hard to swallow that stopped the spasms. You could probably achieve the same with sawdust, salt or powdered chalk, but the sugar at least tastes good and won't kill you. Some use peanut butter as an alternative.
2. Warm and Fizzy Drinks
Drink 7-Up. This was another grandma trick. She was diabetic and always had diet 7-Up in the cabinet. Drinking a few big gulps of warm soda would of course make you burp, which in many instances would in fact cure the hiccups.
Warm soda seems to work faster and better than a cold fizzy beverage. Ginger ale could be a good trick too. White soda or ginger ale have the added benefit of soothing the stomach if your hiccups were induced by overeating before bed.
3. Brown Paper Bag
Breathe in a paper bag. I am not sure this works well at all. It never did for me personally, but I did have a friend who would get hiccups when nervous (i.e., hyperventilating due to anxiety) The breathing into the bag did seem to help both the anxiety and the hiccups. My hiccups were never due to panic though, so it didn't work for me.
Of course, if this doesn't work there is always the option of having someone blow up and pop the bag to scare the hell out of you. Of course, people trying to scare hiccups out of me never worked—it only ended up scaring them when I started chasing them around the room with sharp objects for sneaking up on me in the middle of the night!
4. Backwards Drinking
Drink from the wrong side of the glass. This trick works due to the contortions you have to perform to get yourself into the position to do this without dropping the water all over yourself. The counter-pressure is what actually gets rid of the hiccups. It does work, but so does drinking water the regular way IF you know how to do it. If you try the wrong side of the glass trick, bend far over the sink as you do it and only fill the glass half or less full. It does work, though!
5. Drinking Water the RIGHT way
Drink water the regular way, but do it right. Okay, so chugging down a gallon of water by itself is really not going to help do anything but fill your bladder and send you running for the toilet, while still continuing to hiccup.
The water trick is all in how you do it. Wait until just after a hiccup, take a deep breath in and fill the lungs, then drink taking short little gulps and swallowing really hard while holding your breath or breathing out for as long as you can. This often gets rid of them without another hiccup. When you've drank/held your breath as long as possible release. Wait. If another hiccup comes repeat. With this method you usually don't have to down nearly as much water—it's a combination of the holding of breath, expansion of the diaphragm and the force of the swallowing that ends the spasms.
Breathing techniques. Sometimes if I catch them after the first one I can use a breathing technique that works very well for me. As soon as I hiccup, I exhale the air completely out of my lungs, empty them fully until you can't force anymore air out. Then slowly breathe in and fill the lungs all the way up, hold for five seconds then force the air out like you're blowing out a candle. I'll do this once or twice and usually no more hiccups. If they persist though, then I move on to the water trick above.
7. Stimulate the Vegas Nerve
Massage the roof of your mouth with a Q-tip (or other clean, soft object). This can work if you don't have a strong gag reflex. Massaging the back of the roof of the mouth stimulates the vagus nerve, which in turn stops the spasms of the diaphragm that cause hiccups. Do this while sticking out your tongue.
Yes, you'll look like an idiot, but your hiccups will stop. You may not want to do this one in public though or people may look at you strangely. (Don't ask me how I know. I was desperate!)
I tried the coughing method, and I don't think it works—but perhaps it was just because I got the timing wrong and was not patient enough to try again and went for the water.
The idea is that you count between hiccups, to get an idea how far apart the spasms are. Before the next hiccup comes, you force yourself to cough really hard. In theory, I thought perhaps it could work though so I am sharing it here.
If you are in a public place with no access to water or desire to look stupid touching something to the roof of your mouth while sticking your tongue out, this may be a trick that would work in a pinch.
9. Eat Something Sour
I have heard that drinking a teaspoon of vinegar or sucking the juice right out of a lemon will work. Basically it's the same premise as “startling” someone. It is a shock that interrupts the brain signal that is triggering the spasms.
I have not been desperate enough to put straight vinegar in my mouth because—yeah, ew. I have also never had the pleasure of having a lemon nearby to bite into, although I would try that before vinegar. I know some who swear by these tricks though, but I will personally take a pass!
10. Open-Mouth Swallowing
Last but not least, swallow with your mouth open. This is not as easy as it sounds, but it can work. It can also cause you to drool all over yourself, too. Open your mouth and hold it until the urge to swallow kicks in and then do so without closing your mouth. This somehow moves the muscles in such a way that it stops the hiccup spasms.
I am not coordinated enough for this approach to work for me, however, and I don't like the idea of walking around with my mouth hanging open for any length of time.
So, there you have it—10 fantastic tricks to try the next time hiccups trip you up.
Do you have any strange or unusual things you tried that worked? Feel free to share in the comments!
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Christin Sander