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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?

18 Answers 18

15

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
  • I am down voting this because you state in the answer "These two methods probably don't work". If so, it should not be given in the answer. If you clean up the answer to only provide what does work I will remove the down vote. – subjectivist Mar 7 '15 at 18:17
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    @subjectivist You are of course entitled to vote however you like, including downvoting answers that contain a non-prime number of words or whatever takes your fancy. Nonetheless, I have absolutely no idea why mentioning in passing that a method doesn't work would make an answer somehow bad. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 7 '15 at 18:22
  • I've never had success with the "tension on the diaphragm + breathe normally" or "tension on the diaphragm + swallow air" methods. – Snowbody Mar 8 '15 at 3:31
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    This has worked every time for me. Hiccups are a spasm in your diaphragm, so stretching it helps just like stretching any other spasming muscle. I breathe in as much as I can then swallow to exert pressure, then hold that as long as I can. Sometimes I hiccup while holding my breath and have to start again. – Austin Mar 8 '15 at 8:13
  • Getting someone to startle/scare you works every time. Or just getting distracted works also. Like next time somebody gets hiccups, ask them for the $2000 they borrowed from you some months ago (which they actually didn't) ;) – Ejaz Apr 29 '15 at 21:23
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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

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    Strangest. Answer. To. Hiccups. Ever... – MrPhooky Mar 7 '15 at 17:47
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    OMG! That incredibly attractive woman has the hiccups! I'd better cure her immediately! – CJ Dennis Mar 8 '15 at 10:57
  • This method works for me. I happen to do two held breaths, but I guess that's just me. – user151841 yesterday
5

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.

Good luck!

  • I've found this method to work well, but I also will bend over at the waist after filling my lungs to compress the diaphragm as much as possible. – Lee Harrison Mar 10 '15 at 12:08
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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.

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    This answer kind of links to my answer, as both are related to time and stress. I wish we could get some scientific info on that. – MMalke Nov 10 '16 at 14:57
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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:
    drinking upside down
    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...)
  • If you fail and drinking from the glass upside-down, you can be treated with this: gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1989/04/19 – Justin Mar 7 '15 at 20:17
  • The way both of these work is to trigger the drowning reflex. (Not the hypoxic reflex as the skeptics.se post suggest, and not the mammalian diving reflex like wikipedia suggests). Basically, you're waterboarding yourself. You'll feel a bit of panic and won't be able to talk (or do much else) for several seconds. But it stops hiccups dead. In reality though, hiccups are there for a reason and it would be good to find out the cause. – Snowbody Mar 8 '15 at 3:34
  • I think by the time one is able to figure out how to drink water upside down, the hiccups will have subsided. – subjectivist Mar 8 '15 at 20:53
  • @subjectivist Exactly! – MrPhooky Mar 9 '15 at 8:53
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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!

  • I've got to try this... – Ludwik Mar 7 '15 at 20:44
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No one ever mentions this one, but I realized that if I imagine that I'm mad at something and yell really loudly about it for a few seconds, the hiccups never come back.

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"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.

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My solution is taking a big breath, quickly, fixing your pose: straight back and head. After that calm down as much as you can. You are non-existent. Breath in and out, slowly in the same rythm. You are in total controll of your body. After 5-10 seconds my hiccups are gone and I'm relaxed.

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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.

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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.

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The surefire, never fail method for me is simply to drink water in small rapid sips without breathing until I need to take a breath. By the time I breathe, the hiccups are gone.

Other methods, holding my breath, breathing deeply, etc, always take more than one try.

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This is my grandma's solution to stop hiccups and for me it has worked all the time.

Solution is simple:

Drink small sip of water 7 times back to back.

Hope this helps. Do try and remember to share with others if works fine.

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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.

  • This duplicates an existing answer. – Chenmunka Sep 29 '16 at 8:16
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Take a rounded spoon of peanut butter and swallow it all down. Don't rush the process as the consistency is quite thick. Do this multiple times ( I usually do it twice with large tea spoons ) and you will generally get great results.

It's been my go to for hiccups for years now.

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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.

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Burp. My hiccups are caused by air bubbles getting trapped in the throat. Therefore burping the trapped bubbles upwards cures the hiccups.

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This solution has a 100% success rate but has some really bad side effects so you may not want to use it.

Get a bucket of water, place your head in the water, take your head out then put it back in until you are cured.

  • This does not seem very safe. What are the bad side effects you mention? – michaelpri Sep 18 '16 at 21:30

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