One of the most frustrating things that can happen at any moment is a case of the hiccups. Although they are usually not indicative of any serious health issues and don’t pose any significant threat, hiccups are annoying and sometimes painful. Plus, the worst part is that hiccups can’t really be explained or reliably treated. Hiccups happen when your diaphragm involuntarily contracts. The organ is essential in breathing processes and is located in between your chest and abdomen. The diaphragm contracts intensely and suddenly and then the vocal cords follow, creating the classic tremor and sound that characterizes the hiccups.
At the least, hiccups are a small annoyance that causes a disturbance in your day to day life. They can make it difficult to speak or eat for a few minutes until they go away. At most, they can be serious symptoms of an underlying condition or persistent to the point of pain. That’s why it’s essential to know some of the easy ways to stop them.
Many of the treatments for getting rid of hiccups are common knowledge. However, there are many peculiar and interesting techniques to stop them, as well. Often, families and even regions share the same kinds of hiccup remedies. The peculiar remedies vary and usually come with a claim that they will work every time. However, most people still have some difficulty getting rid of hiccups. Check out the following 10 ways to stop hiccups, and give them a try the next time you’re stuck.
10 Scare Them Away
Arguably the most age-old method to get rid of the hiccups is by scaring them away. Apparently, when a person with the hiccups is startled, it can help to normalize their breathing and stop the hiccups from continuing. But, is there any scientific reason why this is the case? The answer, surprisingly, is that there’s nothing but anecdotes to support the theory. The usefulness of a scare may simply be a placebo effect since it’s a commonly believed hiccup cure.
However, there is a little bit of scientific principle that backs up the scare tactic. First off, anything that takes your brain’s attention away from the hiccups can help you kick them. It helps your mind to stop focusing on them, but it also diverts your resources away from the responsible nerves. Instead, the resources go towards the fight or flight response and often create a genuine gasp that can jump start a new breathing pattern.
The problem with the scare technique is that it’s difficult to engineer a real event that will startle you. The scare must come from someone else, so if you’re struggling with the hiccups alone, it’s not a realistic solution. If you’re expecting the scare in any way, your brain probably won’t have the same kind of reaction. If you want to try out a similar solution, anything that can elicit a real gasp or a shot of adrenaline can have the same effect. Try watching a horror movie or something shocking and fast-paced to try scaring the hiccups away.
9Drink Water Quickly
Another major strategy to get rid of the hiccups is chugging a large amount of water. This helps to distract your brain, stimulate the throat and diaphragm, and interrupt the cycle of hiccups. Drinking water helps to activate the vagus and phrenic nerves, which are often responsible for the hiccups. You can try chugging water or taking a bunch of small sips in a row, with short breaths in between.
Both ways of drinking water help to slow down your nerve responses and force your body to stop breathing for small periods of time. This control of your breath can result in the hiccups stopping. Drinking a lot of water quickly is one of the most common ways to get rid of the hiccups because it’s so easy and accessible. The hiccups can happen randomly, anywhere. It could be in the middle of a business meeting, in an airplane, or even in your sleep. One of the only things that all of these places usually have in common is access to water. Grab a bottle or a glass of water and give this remedy a try before you start running to the store to try anything else.
Sometimes, simply ignoring the hiccups and waiting for them to fade on their own is the best way to stop them. But, it’s not ideal to go through a whole day or two with the hiccups. Simply drinking your water quickly or in many small sips back to back can give you the opportunity to stop hiccupping without investing too much time in home remedies.
8Drink Water Abnormally
Drinking water speedily is not the only way to interfere with the hiccups. There are many water-related strategies that help to combat the hiccups, as well. Basically, any way of drinking water differently than normal has the chance to stop them. Drinking ice water or sucking on an ice cube can help to quickly and effectively stimulate the nerves.
You can also try to control the amount of air getting through by drinking through a cloth or drinking from the far side of the glass. By taking control of your breath, you can try to override the involuntary spasms of your diaphragm. Another aspect of these unusual hiccup remedies is that it puts your mind on something else.
Many people develop their own strange ways to drink water in an attempt to stop the hiccups. By focusing on controlling your breath, stimulating the nerves, and taking your mind off the hiccups- these water-related strategies use every possible weapon to combat against the hiccups effectively. Drinking water upside down or in a strange position can also have one other effect- forcing you to burp. By making yourself burp or even inciting a hiccup to happen, you can “get it out of your system” and actually make them stop in the end! As your friends, family, and coworkers about the ways that they drink water when they have the hiccup. Almost everyone is sure to have a unique strategy for you to try out. Try as many different positions as you need to until the hiccups finally give up.
7Hold Your Breath
Another way of controlling your breath in order to stop the hiccups is by simply holding your breath for as long as you can. This helps to fully contract the diaphragm, and the tension can stop it from hiccupping out of your control. Holding your breath is one of the main things that people will tell you to do when you start hiccupping.
You can also use a totally opposite strategy and try to breathe in or out for as long as you can. Forcing yourself to inhale, exhale, or stop breathing altogether helps to interrupt the reflexes that are causing the involuntary hiccups. The science behind this method is some of the most proven when it comes to hiccup remedies. By allowing less oxygen into your lungs, your blood becomes a lot richer in carbon dioxide. Since the diaphragm needs oxygen to function, the low levels make it work more slowly and often inhibits the spasms. This also switches the brain’s focus and priorities to the high levels of carbon dioxide, which is dangerous for the body. Some researchers even think that the whole reason behind hiccups in the first place could be unstable levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
The problem is, although it makes sense on paper, the remedy is notoriously unreliable. It works sometimes and for some people but doesn’t work other times or for other people. Luckily, this is a method that is easy and doesn’t require much time or effort- why not give it a try and see if it works for your hiccups?
6Use a Sitting Position
There are certain ways to sit or stand that can force your airways to stop the hiccupping. Changing your breathing and your posture allows your diaphragm to relax completely and stop the spasms. Some of the most effective positions include pressure on your chest. For example, sitting with your knees bent and hugged to your chest, or lying down on your stomach.
The goal of posture changes is to move your body, which helps to contract your diaphragm and surrounding muscles. One of the most intriguing things about the hiccups is that no one can completely explain why such changes in a position actually help. If you have some time on your hands, going through a yoga sequence or a similar stretching workout can help get the hiccups under control. Yoga and stretching combines posture changes and muscle activation with controlled, deep breathing. It can be as simple as bringing awareness to the way you are seated or standing. If you’re at work, try straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders. Such a small change in your posture can actually stop the hiccups.
Another common cause of the hiccups is a high-stress level or feelings of acute anxiety, so taking a moment to stretch, breathe, and relax your body is beneficial in more ways than one. You can prevent future hiccups and stop them as fast as possible by bringing some additional awareness and focus into your body. The kind of release and adrenaline that comes with stretching or exercising helps to distract from the hiccups.
5Use a Pressure Point
By pressing on certain parts of your body, you can activate the nerves and muscles responsible for the hiccups. This can be as simple as using your hands to push directly on the diaphragm. It’s found right in the middle of your chest, in the space between your ribs.
Other pressure points directly relate to the vagus and phrenic nerves. First, you can pull on your tongue or open your mouth as wide as possible to try and move your throat muscles. There are also pressure points in the middle of your palms that may get rid of the hiccups if you push on them. Next, moving your head around and applying pressure to the carotid arteries in your neck has proven to be effective as well. Pressure points are beneficial for a wide array of different health issues. They were widely used in ancient medicine and still used in practices like reflexology and acupuncture nowadays. Although there isn’t a ton of scientific literature on pressure points, the general principle is that points in your hands and feet correlate to major organs and parts of the body. There is, however, a lot of research to support the idea that human touch and movement of tissues and muscles is beneficial for general health.
The idea is that pushing on these points with enough pressure can help to relieve health problems throughout the body. Whether or not the pressure points themselves can directly stop your hiccups, the practice is certainly useful to get your mind and brain distracted.
4Eat Something Cold or Sour
Another way to shock your system a little bit and distract your nerves is to eat something really cold, sour, or sweet. Eating a spoonful of sugar, a pinch of vinegar or a bit of lemon juice may be the extreme that your nerves need to make them stop hiccupping. Each of these substances is able to directly affect the vagus nerve and divert resources away from your hiccups.
Sugar is doubly effective because it’s granular and can itch your throat, easing some of the frustrations that come along with the hiccups. Hot sauce has the same kind of effect, causing the burning sensation in your mouth to activate the nerves and distract from the hiccups. You can also attempt to swallow a small spoonful of a powder like cinnamon or cocoa. The difficulty of doing so can stop the hiccups in their tracks.
Essentially, anything with an extreme flavor that will shock your mouth at least a little bit is worth a try to stop the hiccups. On the other hand, it’s also a good idea to avoid some foods when you’re dealing with the hiccups. Having a lot of carbonated drinks or extremely spicy foods can make you get the hiccups more often. Avoiding these foods, or eating too quickly in general, can help to prevent the hiccups in the first place. If all else fails, there are even certain medications that your doctor can prescribe to get the hiccups under control and give you more control of your diaphragm.
3Stop Thinking About Them
Most of the hiccup cures that you’ve learned about include some element of distraction. Getting your mind off the hiccups is half the battle, so any kind of distraction is a good method to stop them. Instead of focusing on your hiccups, switch up what you’re doing and thinking about. Choose to watch something on TV, play a game, or go for a walk rather than thinking about your hiccups.
Getting distracted is helpful to mentally ease the frustrations of having the hiccups, and divert resources away from the diaphragm and the vagus nerve. Many people find that the hiccups disappear almost as soon as they stop thinking about them. Many of these hiccup remedies are useful simply as a distraction. If you have anything to focus on- whether it’s work, a hobby, or just a fun activity- take the opportunity to throw yourself into it and stop thinking about the hiccups. The best ways to distract yourself when it comes to stopping the hiccups is with anything that implicates the body. Go for a run, lift some weights, or do some kickboxing! The dramatic and adrenaline-pumping activity will offer the ideal distraction for your body and mind.
Many researchers believe that doing a slightly challenging or difficult activity can also help. Sitting down with a puzzle or a handful of math problems can help to take your mind completely off the issue at hand. For example, try to say the alphabet backward or think of a word that starts with each letter as you say it.
2Use Smelling Salts
One of the most comfortable and pleasant ways to kick the hiccups is by sniffing some smelling salts. Whether you have some aromatic salts on hand or just some table salt in the kitchen, the smell of salt tends to activate your nerves and distract from the hiccups. Smelling salts are used for many purposes, and it’s a good idea to have some around the house regardless.
They happen to offer a bit of a stimulating effect when the smell is breathed in, which is why they are popular with athletes. Smelling salts are actually a chemical compound called ammonium carbonate, often mixed with more pleasant smelling perfumes or essential oils.
The function of smelling salts is to force the inhalation process to happen faster. The smell irritates the membranes in the nose and lungs, causing a kick-start to the respiration process and helping to stop the hiccups. Smelling salts also help to increase the amount of oxygen in your brain as your blood vessels expand suddenly. However, smelling salts are much less commonly used nowadays. Ammonia gas is toxic, but the small amounts inhaled in smelling salts don’t have any negative effects. It’s a good idea to avoid using smelling salts regularly because of this, but they have proved to be a reasonable and effective solution to the occasional case of hiccups. The pungent aroma clears your airways and, in the same way as sour or spicy foods, shocks the body into stopping your hiccups. They’re also useful for lowering congestion and combatting allergies.
1Eat Some Peanut Butter
Certain foods can help to stop the hiccups as well. A spoonful of peanut butter or another thick substance like honey can help to interrupt your breathing pattern and stop the diaphragm from contracting randomly. As you chew on the peanut butter and move it around your mouth, all the right muscles are activated to make the hiccups go away.
Eating a spoonful of such a thick substance is a good way to get your mind off the hiccups for at least five minutes. However, ensure that you don’t eat too much peanut butter at once and risk getting it stuck in your throat. A similar way to distract your mind and slow your breathing pattern is by chewing on gum or candy for a few minutes- anything that slows and focuses your breath. Forcing yourself to breathe in between bites can restart your breath and distract the diaphragm from contracting and causing the uncomfortable hiccups. Many people believe that hiccups originated as a way for fetuses in the womb to avoid accidental choking on amniotic fluid.
The goal of most hiccup remedies is to remind your body that you are not choking and that you’re in control of your breathing. Slowly chewing on peanut butter, honey, gum, or similar foods helps to slow your brain down, focus on one task at hand, and bring attention to the fact that your breathing is controlled. Doing so, the vagus and phrenic nerves return to their regular jobs and cease to be so irritated.
Everyone deals with the hiccups every once in a while. Although it’s usually just a small inconvenience, no one likes the feeling of an involuntary motion going on in their body. By being equipped with these methods of stopping the hiccups, you’re sure to be prepared for the next unexpected instance. However, there are also many ways to prevent hiccups from happening in the first place. Most of the time, hiccups happen with no real cause. But there are some things that can affect your diaphragm and breathe in a way that causes hiccups. For example, drinking too much alcohol or too many carbonated drinks.
Eating too much or too quickly can also play a role in the hiccups. Essentially, any time that you’re swallowing air unexpectedly and quickly, your diaphragm could get overwhelmed and out of sync. Most of the time, these issues will only cause hiccups that last for 48 hours or less and can be quickly solved with one of the remedies above.
When hiccups last for longer than 48 hours, it’s likely that there is something else going on. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor if your hiccups last for a couple of days or happen more often than usual. They could be indicative of heart problems, nerve damage or irritation of the vagus nerves, or a variety of metabolic disorders. Although the underlying disease may be dangerous, the hiccups themselves are more of an inconvenience. Even long-lasting hiccups only have the capacity to interfere with your day to day eating, speaking, and sleeping.