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How to cure hiccups

We’ve all been tormented by hiccups at some point in our lives, and there is usually a well-meaning onlooker when who will immediately propose their own suggestion for the best way of getting rid of them. But with so many different remedies to choose from, the question is: are there any which actually work, or even better, are any supported by scientific evidence?

How to cure hiccups

The hics

Hiccups occur when the thin layer of muscle underneath your lungs, your diaphragm, suddenly and involuntarily contracts. As your diaphragm tightens, it causes you take a sharp breath. But this rush of incoming air is stopped when the opening between your vocal cords, your glottis, closes suddenly. This produces the characteristic ‘hic’ sound!

Hiccups can occur spontaneously. Or there are lots of potential triggers, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, eating too quickly or eating spicy foods.

Moreover, there are a number of underlying medical conditions, like asthma, that can cause hiccups, and certain medications can also prompt a bout.

Hiccup cures

Most cases of hiccups should resolve on their own. But, if you just can’t wait there are a few popular home remedies worth a try.

Most home remedies are based on a few mechanisms.

Breathing exercises

In the first group are the methods breathing exercises that raise the levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the blood, inhibiting spasms of the diaphragm. These techniques include holding your breath or slowing your breathing down. Although some people will swear that these techniques work, researchers are still unsure why. It may be that hiccups are caused by low levels of CO₂, so raising this will inhibit the hiccups, or some think it’s a way of distracting the brain so that it worries about the build up of CO₂ instead.

Diaphragm Exercises

Hiccups occur when your diaphragm suddenly contracts, so there is a theory that hiccups can be stopped with diaphragm exercises. You could draw your knees up to your chest and hold them there for a couple of minutes. Or you can lean forward and compress your chest and relieve the spasm that way.

Shock to the system

Another school of thought for curing hiccups suggests doing something to distract your brain or stimulate your vagus nerve. For example, you could put some sugar on the back of your tongue and then wait until it dissolves before swallowing it, or suck a slice of lemon. Or you could try and give yourself a fright.

But, hiccups are very hard to study and even harder to induce, so while the mechanism seems obvious many of these ‘cures’ don’t have a vast amount of scientific backing.

Have the annoying hiccups? Try these 5 ways to get rid of them!

How to Cure the Hiccups

How to Cure the Hiccups

Guess what I’m doing every 30 seconds or so as I write this? That’s right, my body is tensing into tiny convulsions accompanied by a noise that makes me grateful I work out of the privacy of my home.

In other words, I’ve got the hiccups. Meh.

After a couple of minutes of hiccuping, when I realize that they’re here for the foreseeable future, I start going through my bag of hiccup cures. I’ll share my faves with you!

Eat a Spoonful of Sugar

Eat a Spoonful of Sugar

The power of a teaspoon of dry sugar to stop hiccups in their tracks has been documented by the New England Journal of Medicine and Mary Poppins alike. So take your medicine!

Distract Yourself

Distract Yourself

Hiccups are a reflex, a nerve twitch that cycles through your body when something has irritated your diaphragm or one of the vagus nerves that run from the brain to the abdomen (incidental fun fact – the vagus nerve is what makes some of us pass out when we have violent stomach illnesses). So to cure the hicks, distract yourself with any number of techniques that you’ve probably heard before – get someone to scare you, drink a glass of water from the far side of the glass, hold your breath and count backwards from 100, etc.

Take an Antacid with Magnesium

Take an Antacid with Magnesium

Did you know that magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer? And did you know that hiccups are little more than muscle spasms? Chew on an antacid tablet or two–many of them contain magnesium–to interrupt the twitch cycle and banish the hicks.