Don’t you hate it when you get the hiccups and no matter what you try, they just won’t go away? Well, there are many ways to stop hiccups. In some cases, the methods are culturally passed on while others are tried and tested that people say work every time. In this article, we will discuss a few of these ways you can get rid of hiccups. But first, let’s explore what are hiccups and what are some of the causes.

What Are Hiccups?

Hiccups are medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter or singultus (SDF). The muscles we use when we take in a breath are the intercostal muscles situated between the ribs, and the diaphragm — a sheet of muscle below the lungs. Hiccups occur when these diaphragm muscles contract 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.

Most people have bouts of hiccups from time to time. In most cases, they start for no apparent reason, last a short while and then stop. Sometimes they are due to:

  • Sudden excitement or emotional stress.
  • A temporary swollen stomach caused by overeating or eating too fast, drinking fizzy drinks, or swallowing air.
  • A sudden change in temperature (very hot or cold food or drinks, a cold shower, etc).
  • Eating spicy food
  • Alcohol.
  • Excess smoking.

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.

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:

  • First, block off all airways by putting fingers in your ears and blocking your nostrils. Then, take a sip or two of water from a glass. It is possible to do this alone (looks a bit silly – but is possible) but you may find it easier with an assistant.
  • Sipping iced water.
  • sipping ice-cold water
  • Using a technique called the Valsalva manoeuvre. (The Valsalva manoeuvre means trying to push your breath out while you hold your throat and voice box closed.) The way to do this is to take a deep breath in, then keep the air inside you while pushing with your muscles as if to force the air out. This is like pushing in childbirth or straining on the toilet.
  • biting on a lemon
  • swallowing granulated sugar
  • tasting vinegar
  • breathing into a paper bag
  • Gasping after a sudden fright, or sneezing.
  • pulling your knees up to your chest
  • leaning forward to compress your chest

If your hiccups have lasted longer than 48 hours without stopping, you should schedule an appointment with your physician. This can be a sign of something more serious.

Random Fact

The longest hiccupping attack lasted 68 years.

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