How To Get Rid Of Hiccups Fast: 10 Effective Ways

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How To Get Rid Of Hiccups Fast

There are many ways to stop hiccups, most of which involve stimulating the vagus nerve actively involved in hiccups. You could put a spoonful of sugar or peanut butter or cocoa powder in the mouth and wait for it to do the job. You can breathe into a paper bag, bite into a lime or stick your tongue out to stop hiccups. Cold water works on hiccups effectively, so does sucking on an ice cube. You could get someone to give you a scare or try the effective 30-second breath control method, too.

Hiccups are annoying, to say the least. Most of the time, they go on their own. Sometimes hiccups can persist and you want to stop it by all means. Well, there are many ways to stop hiccups–some tricks are culturally passed on while others are tried and tested.

Also known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), or singultus in medical parlance, hiccups occur when the diaphragm, the thin layer of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen, contracts suddenly and involuntarily. When this happens, it causes one to breathe air in very quickly. This sudden inhalation, however, triggers a sudden closure of the vocal cords, resulting in the characteristic “hic” sound.1

Most of the time, hiccups have no apparent reason. Sometimes, it could be triggered by a bloated stomach, eating or swallowing too quickly, swallowing air, eating spicy food, stress, fear, etc. Short bouts of hiccups usually pass without the need for any treatment.
In rare cases, hiccups that last 48 hours or longer can be caused by an underlying condition like gastrointestinal problems, respiratory conditions, conditions affecting the central nervous system, an irritation of the vagus nerve which controls the diaphragm, a psychological reaction like fear or shock, or metabolic conditions.

Sometimes, a medication that you are taking could also be the cause for persistent hiccups.2

Effective Ways To Stop Hiccups

Normally, the best thing to do when you have hiccups is to wait and let it pass. If it doesn’t, there are a number of things you can try out that may help to stop hiccups fast. However, while some people swear by the effectiveness of these methods, there is no scientific evidence to show how effective they are. Some of these methods include:3

  • sipping ice-cold water
  • holding your breath for a short period or Valsalva maneuver
  • biting on a lemon
  • swallowing granulated sugar
  • tasting vinegar
  • breathing into a paper bag
  • pulling your knees up to your chest
  • leaning forward to compress your chest

Most of the common folk cures for hiccups try to confront hiccup either by diverting the brain’s senses away from the nerves responsible for the hiccups or by directly interfering with or stimulating the body parts like vagus nerve4 involved in the hiccup.

Here are a few simple ways to stop hiccups that have stood the test of time and are all-time favorites.5

1. A Spoonful Of Sugar

A spoonful of sugar helps not just the medicine go down but is also a cure for hiccups. The sugar granules are believed to stimulate the vagus nerve and help reset the phrenic nerves, thus making the body forget about the hiccups. Take a spoonful of sugar, put it all in your mouth, suck on it and swallow it slowly.

Another method is to take a teaspoon full of sugar, place it in your mouth for five seconds and then allow it to slowly dissolve without chewing it. When all the sugar is dissolved, take a sip of water, and the hiccups would have stopped.

2. Bite Into A Lime

The trick about biting into a wedge of lime6 or sipping something sour is to shock your senses into forgetting about the hiccups. The feeling you experience when biting something sour is similar to your reaction when someone scares you. Apart from this, there is also the probability that the sourness triggers a set of nerves in the throat that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc. A common suggestion is to place a few drops of Angostura Bitters on the lemon wedge makes it work more effectively.

3. Swallow Sticky Peanut Butter

Now peanut butter is one of the most famous hiccup cures you will ever come across. When chewing and swallowing the sticky peanut butter and getting it off your tongue and teeth, your swallowing and breathing patterns are disturbed from the normal mode. This is believed to stop continuous hiccups very easily.

Take one teaspoon of peanut butter, take it in your mouth and swallow it without chewing. For those with peanut allergy, opt for almond butter.

4. Stick Out Your Tongue

No, not necessarily at somebody. And it would be better if you tried this technique in private. Pulling the tongue out is considered to be a sure-fire method to get rid of hiccups fast. The vagus nerve gets stimulated when the tongue is pulled and the diaphragm spasms ease up.

The best way to do this is to pull your tongue with your fingers.

5. Breathe Into A Paper Bag

The paper bag method works by increasing the carbon dioxide levels in the blood and making the diaphragm contract more deeply to bring in more oxygen.7 This is believed to help stop the hiccups.

All you have to do is breathe slowly and deeply into a small paper bag. Remember to stop immediately if you start feeling light headed.

6. Water To The Rescue

One of the reasons why water can help get rid of hiccups is that when you gulp down water, the rhythmic contractions of the esophagus override spasms of the diaphragm. Another principle is where concentrated gulping counteracts the spasmodic muscle movements of hiccups when you pull hard to drink. Take a look at some methods:

  • Gulping water: Take 9 or 10 quick sips in a row from a glass of water. This will stop the spasms causing the hiccups.
  • Glass lined with a paper towel: Fill a glass with water, place a single layer of paper towel over the top of the glass, and then drink through the towel. You will have to pull hard to drink the water. This “pull” helps counteract the spasmodic muscle movement of the hiccups, making it stop.
  • Gulping cold water: Drink a glass of cold water as fast as you can. This will shock your system and cause a distraction, thus stopping the hiccups. Adding a spoonful of honey into the water can also help.
  • Gargling: Gargling with cold water for up to a minute is also said to be effective to cure hiccups.
  • Ice: Another option to get rid of hiccups is to suck on a small piece of ice for a few seconds.
  • Drinking through a straw: Drink and entire glass of water with a straw. Simultaneously, block both your ears.

7. Scare Tactics

A sudden scare works in two ways—it jump starts the breath pattern and also gives an overriding stimulus to the sympathetic nervous system. This activates the fight-or-flight stress response, resulting in a distraction and consequent end of the bout of hiccups.

8. A Spoonful Of Cocoa Powder

Like peanut butter and almond butter, a spoonful of powdered cocoa is also one of the easiest ways to get rid of hiccups. Take a teaspoon of cocoa powder and try to swallow it instantly. Since this is not as easy as it sounds and requires some effort, it short-circuits the hiccups and helps stop it.

9. Honey In Warm Water

Honey can tickle the vagus nerve, making the hiccups stop. Stir a teaspoon of honey into some warm water, put this on the back of the tongue, and swallow it. Hiccups will stop fast.

10. The 30-Second Method

This method, though lasts for only 30 seconds, is a bit complicated. However, it is said to be highly effective. Here are some step-by-step directions on doing it right.

  • Step 1: Inhale through your mouth until your lungs feel full.
  • Step 2: Swallow. You are not really swallowing anything but it seems that without this act, it doesn’t work. Do not let any air out.
  • Step 3: Inhale some more until your lungs feel full again. You may not be able to inhale a lot, but do get some more air in.
  • Step 4: Swallow again. This too will start to get difficult as you go. Do not let any air out.
  • Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 (inhale and swallow) until you cannot swallow again.
  • Step 6: Exhale.

If done correctly, the whole process should take around 30 seconds, and your hiccups will be gone.

Note: When you feel like you cannot swallow again, swallow again anyway. It will be hard to do, your face will probably turn red, and you may make squeaking sounds. But you can swallow one last time. By this time, your lungs should also be quite full and it should be difficult to get much more air in as well. While you should try not to let any air out, if you have really repeated steps 3 and 4 as many times as you can, you probably will end up letting a little air out before you can take that last swallow. If you find that air keeps escaping out of your nose even early in the process, try squeezing it shut with your fingers. For overall best results, do the steps as quickly as you can and try very hard not to let any air out. If you are not literally struggling to swallow at the end then you are probably not quite doing it right.

References   [ + ]

1.Causes Of Hiccups. NHS.
2.Chang, Full-Young, and Ching-Liang Lu. “Hiccup: mystery, nature and treatment.” J Neurogastroenterol Motil 18, no. 2 (2012): 123-130.
3.6 Ways To Use Watermelon On Your Skin. NHS.
4.Petroianu, Georg A. “Treatment of hiccup by vagal maneuvers.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 24, no. 2 (2015): 123-136.
5.Chang, Full-Young, and Ching-Liang Lu. “Hiccup: mystery, nature and treatment.” J Neurogastroenterol Motil 18, no. 2 (2012): 123-130.
6.Amr, Hussein. “Throat spray for stopping hiccups.” U.S. Patent Application 10/095,806, filed March 12, 2002.
7.I Can’t Stop Hiccuping. Columbia University.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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