Hiccups are the worst. Whenever I get them, I get them bad. I usually hiccup constantly for 30 minutes to an hour, distracting me and my family. I've heard of tons of ways to get rid of them like take deep breaths, drink water while sitting upside down, or hold your breath. None of these have worked. What is a quick, easy way to get rid of the hiccups?
There are lots of purported folk remedies for hiccups. Inasmuch as some of them work at all, it isn't clear to what extent this is for physiological or psychological reason, or just because hiccups eventually goes away on its own and people only remember that it went away while they were trying something.
For medical references, I refer you to threads on Skeptics Stack Exchange:
These two methods probably don't work though these threads don't offer conclusive proof that they work.
One method that seems to work for several people (it's worked for me too) is to swallow as much air as possible and maintain tension on your diaphragm. I breath in to the point where I can't do it anymore and then hold my breath for a minute or so; it usually works for me. I don't know to what extent this is physiological. Tanath reports that it “works immediately and every time” (for me, it takes a minute or so and only works most of the time). John C notes that what matters is tension on the diaphragm, not holding your breath per se (I can confirm that it doesn't work if I don't breathe in fully before holding my breath).
The NYU medical center offers several possible remedies with no explanation:
- Eating hard to swallow items such as granulated sugar or molasses
- Sucking on ice cubes
- Gagging with purpose
- Valsalva maneuver — holding your breath and bearing down, as you might when having a bowel movement
- Breathing into a bag
One method is to fill the lungs with air, and when they are full, pull in a little bit more, then squeeze very hard for fifteen or twenty seconds. The purpose of this is to help the diaphragm relax and quit spasming. Doing this a few times should end the hiccups.
When that does not work, for people who cannot stop hiccups over several hours, the official cure is stimulation of the vagas nerve. The vagas nerve can be stimulated through orgasm or using a finger to massage the anus. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/09/04/3582324.htm
Holding my breath has never failed. However, some people think this doesn't work for them, but I suspect it's because they don't use the correct technique when they try. I've encountered several people who had bad hiccoughs, and when I told them to hold their breath, they dismissed the idea saying "I tried that and it didn't work". When I told them the correct technique and they tried it, they got cured!
Basically, as Gilles says, you have to hold your breath deeply, as deep as you can, i.e. get as much air into your lungs as possible. You also have to HOLD your breath for at least around twice the interval of your hiccoughs. So if you hiccough once every 10 seconds, you should hold your breath for at least 20 seconds. You should start holding your breath immediately after a hiccough, if you wait to hold your breath just before another hiccough comes, this method won't work.
A school-teacher demonstrated a method that, she says, worked very reliable when her pupils (at an English girls' public school if that makes any difference) get hiccups. She asks the girl with hiccups to the front of the class and, with quite a bit of ceremony, ask the girl to hiccup in front of the entire class.
The girl is then given a time limit (say 60 seconds) in which to hiccup and the class shout encouraging things to her. This - she told me - cures hiccups and it did work on the occasion that she demonstrated it to me.
This may be strongly affected by culture and age, but my guess is that something about having to perform in front of a lot of people and the nervousness and apprehension involved suppresses the hiccup reaction.
I thought it worth adding because it is the oddest method I have seen demonstrated. Personally I drink water while someone else tells me whether to start or stop at random intervals, which I suspect is much like the "other person gives you a drink" method.
There are loads of methods that people will swear by, but the ultimate point of all the methods is to really concentrate on something else to take your mind off them and they normally go for some reason!
I use a couple of methods and one I had never failed with:
- Get someone else to give you a drink
If you have someone to hand, get them to pour a glass of water or something into your mouth, as you're not used to it then it'll require extra concentration (and a little bit of panic you'll drown if they don't stop) and after about 5-10 seconds of drinking they'll be completely gone. That's with my personal experience anyway!
- Drink a glass of water upside down
Right, this'll require a picture for explanation:
As you can see from this lovely image, you're not actually upside down but you kind of are... Basically this is just very confusing to do and requires immense concentration to pull off and normally cures hiccups as well!
There are a couple of other methods I've tried and other people swear by but never have as good (if any) results:
- Hold your breath for 20 seconds
- Get someone to scare you (never works as you know they're going to scare you...)
Getting the wind knocked out of you cures them 100% of the time. Find someone and ask them to give you a light but firm punch/chop to the stomach when you're not paying attention. It doesn't take much force to knock the wind out of someone who isn't aware what's about to happen. This doesn't mean gasping for breath, you can kind of half-knock the wind out of someone and that works just as well.
Whether you willing to go through with this or not is up to you, but it's worked for me and on others back in my college/partying days. Nothing ruins a night quite like a case of the hiccups that simply won't pass, and 10 seconds of discomfort seemed worth it!
"Holding your breath" is so nearly right, but missing the one vital point - you have to hold your breath out ie breathe out, then not breathe in for as long as you can manage. Sometimes you need to repeat this a few times too. Presumably it creates a subtle change in blood chemistry or something but, be that as it may, I can promise you, it works.
My technique runs along similar lines to Francis Davey's, but it doesn't require an audience.
I say, out loud: "I don't have hiccups. I had hiccups up until just now, but they've stopped, and I don't have hiccups anymore." Or something like that. You have to insist on it.
I think this works better if you then focus your mind on something other than hiccups. The critical element is the psychological fake-out, though—we all know from experience that simply thinking about something else isn't going to help.
This method works very reliably for me, and it worked for the friend who taught it to me, but since it relies on psychological trickery I don't know for sure whether it will work for everyone.
From my observation, Hiccups come after a particular time interval.
So first start the count when a hiccup comes and till the time the next hiccup comes.
For example:- You got the next hiccup after 10 seconds.
Now when the hiccup comes start the count, take a glass of water and start taking sips 2-3 seconds before your time count of hiccups and continue drinking water.
It will stop if you drink the water just at time hiccup has to come. This technique always works for me. Try it.
I always take a deep breath and try to hold it for as long as I can, sometimes I need to try 2 or 3 times before it works, but it always eventually does (usually on first or second try).
I learned this method from the water drinking trick (To gulp down water till you gotta breathe) I use this because I don't always have water on hand.
Hiccups can be caused by many reasons as other posters may say. One of them is stress/jitters.
I had an extremely strong hiccup attack a few months ago, one that I am glad no one but me had the bad luck of watching. It would not stop by any means I found on the internet but a very strange one:
Watch closely the pointer of a clock for a period of one to two minutes, concentrating solely on the seconds pointer, trying to count how many hiccups you have.
The result is that you can't count more than 3 hiccups, because they suddenly stop.
I am pretty sure there is a scientific explanation of why this happens, but it did work for me, and for some other people.
Though my source is only a blog, and it is in portuguese, it's where I got the tip, and some other users claimed this technique to work for them too.
I did it as a last resort, unbelieving that it would work, but it did. Later during the same day, the hiccups came back again, and I stop them by using the same technique, so it worked twice for me.