Knowing how to get rid of hiccups seems like a magic bullet.
Picture the scene: You’re among friends, you’ve just enjoyed a delectable dinner, and your posture is cool and confident. Your speech is clear and elegant — it flows through the conversation like a river of chocolate.
Then, suddenly, one little moment changes everything:
Suddenly *hic* your body is *hic* jolting and *hic* you can barely *hic* get *hic* your *hic* words *hic* — oh, forget it. Hiccups are here for the foreseeable future.
But don’t worry. We’ve got your back.
How to get rid of hiccups — fast!
Hiccups are never fun and always seem to strike at the most inconvenient times. Here are some tips you can try to quash the ’cups quickly:
- Hold your breath.
- Breathe into a paper bag.
- Eat something sweet.
- Squeeze your palm.
These methods aren’t effective all the time. But finding a method that works for you can provide relief during even the *hic*iest of times.
If your hiccups happen several times a day or don’t let up after 48 hours, check in with a healthcare professional to make sure you don’t have an underlying health condition.
Hiccups are the result of involuntary spasms in your diaphragm that cause your vocal cords (glottis) to rapidly close up.
The suggestions for getting rid of hiccups are pretty endless — get someone to startle you, drink water upside down, eat sugar. But are these tricks the real deal for getting rid of the hics?
Maybe. Research suggests that the following options could be the most effective ways of getting your hiccups to shut up. But finding what works for you is going to be the key to de-*hic*ing yourself.
Much of the evidence of how often these methods work is anecdotal. Everyone’s different, and what works for your pals might not be the remedy you want.
These have done the trick before and may again. But if they don’t, you might still need someone to scare the sh*t out of you.
Pressure points are parts of your body that are sensitive to applied pressure.
These pressure points may help relax your diaphragm and stimulate your vagus nerve. This nerve helps keep your hormones in balance, and stimulating it might help soothe your hiccups.
Some pressure point techniques to try:
- Massage your eyeballs.
- Gently pull on your tongue.
- Press lightly on your diaphragm.
- Massage your carotid artery, which is in your head and neck area. Some research suggests that giving this artery a deep rub might help reset your body enough to rid you of the hics.
Breathing and posture
A shift in breath control and posture can help relax your diaphragm and thus ease those hiccups into oblivion. These techniques might help you kick the hics:
- Try controlled breathing: Breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Hug your knees tightly.
- Compress your chest.
- Pinch your nose. (Some medical pros refer to this as the Valsalva maneuver, and research suggests it may legit help.)
Food and drink
Some foods and drinks can cause hiccups — but others might be just the thing to stop them. Options include:
- Ice cold water. Drink multiple gulps. Gargling it is also recommended.
- Lemon. Bite into a wedge of this lip-puckering fruit (but not one that’s been floating in an alcoholic drink — you might end up fighting fire with tequila).
- Vinegar. Pour a drop on your tongue.
- Peanut butter. Grab a spoon and dig in.
- A spoonful of sugar. It doesn’t just help the medicine go down.
Maybe these aren’t ones to try at the party from the intro unless it’s that kind of party…
- Have an orgasm. Yes, you read that correctly. Research suggests climaxing can be the hiccups’ kryptonite (hictonite?). Oh, well, if we must.
- Rectal massage. Another option to consider (that might well lead to the first, if that’s your bag). We haven’t tried it, but a 60-year-old man did during a study back in 1990. It does sorta make sense: If you’ve got a finger in your butthole, hiccups will be the last thing on your mind.
You might want to try pinching your nose or holding your tongue before trying rectal massage as a cure for hiccups. Getting the order right on that one is pretty essential.
If you thought those sounded a little strange, we’re not through yet. You could also try:
- Acupuncture. Sticking some needles in you might seem like a bit of an extreme solution. But a case report in 2020 noted that extracranial acupuncture (aka acupuncture around the head) made the hics disappear for one patient.
- Hypnotherapy. If you’re really struggling to escape the hiccup curse, hypnosis might work, according to some medical literature from 1985. You may well hyp-notice the difference.
The causes of pesky hiccups are unclear, but there is some info out there on what can directly set them off.
You may trigger a bout of hiccups through what you eat. Your stomach sits directly below your diaphragm, and they work in tandem. Any irritation in your stomach can also frustrate your diaphragm.
Here are some of the eating-related triggers for hiccups:
- eating and drinking too quickly
- glugging soda and carbonated drinks
- drinking alcohol
- regular smoking
- eating spicy foods
- immediately following hot foods with cold foods (and vice versa)
Emotional triggers like these can also switch you into hiccup mode:
- emotional shock or stress
- laughing fits (let’s be real — this is super cute)
Enough already: When to see a doctor
If your hiccups continue for 48 hours or happen super frequently, they could be a sign of a more serious health condition, usually involving your central nervous system or digestive tract.
Chronic hiccups might also be a side effect of certain medications. If you take any meds, check whether hiccups are listed as a side effect.
Your doc might need to switch your meds if this side effect is *hic*ing up your everyday life.
Your doc may prescribe chlorpromazine, the only medication with FDA approval as an effective treatment for hiccups. Research suggests it’s effective in up to 80 percent of cases.
With all that in mind, here are some ways to prevent those pesky hiccups from cropping up in the first place:
- Avoid alcohol and fizzy drinks.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- If you smoke, try to quit.
- Eat and drink slowly.
- Avoid combining very hot and very cold foods in short periods of time.
- Try to relax. (This is sometimes easier said than done. But if your diaphragm is calm, you’re less likely to see a single ’cup.)
Hiccups are super common. They’re uncomfortable but usually brief, and they’re not dangerous. They occur in short bursts and soon subside.
But if your hiccups persist for a long time, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice.
Otherwise, practice those breathing techniques, pin down those pressure points, and don’t rush your food and drink. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Sayonara” to your singultus.