Hiccups occur when your diaphragm begins to involuntarily contract. Each contraction causes your vocal chords to close. Eating large meals, drinking with carbonation or sudden surprise or excitement can all cause someone to get hiccups. Symptoms include a tightening in your chest, abdomen or throat and the “hic” sound that is made when your vocal chords are closed after each contraction. However, if hiccups last longer than 2 days it may mean that a more severe medical condition is present. So, how to stop hiccups? In such case, a more proactive medical approach rather than simple at-home remedies will be needed.
How to Stop Hiccups
1. Quick Remedies
Simple remedies are the first options to stop hiccups. Here lists some traditional methods, and choose one or several of them to help relieve the discomfort.
- Drink water. Swallowing interrupts the hiccupping cycle and calms the nerves. Gargling can have the same effect.
- Consume sweets. Try eating a teaspoonful of sugar. Overloading the nerve endings in your mouth with a sweet taste can help overcome your hiccups.
- “Hear no evil”. Place your fingers in your ear to stimulate the nerve endings of the vagus nerve. Once this nerve is put into action it will help rebalance the contractions in your abdomen.
- Get scared. A sudden surprise or jolt will overwhelm the vagus nerve, effectively ending your hiccups.
- Pull the tongue. Stick your tongue out of your mouth and pull on it. It may sound strange, but the strain on your mouth and throat can help halt the contractions in your diaphragm.
- Tickle the mouth. Tickle the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab. If you can be tickled then have someone tickle you. Be careful not to laugh as that can make hiccups worse sometimes.
- Hold the breath. Close your mouth and pinch your nose for as long as you can until you feel that the hiccups are gone.
- Put them in a bag. Breathe slowly into a bag. You put carbon dioxide into your body this way and the body becomes occupied with removing it and will forget about the hiccups you were having.
- Take antacids. Take tablets that contain magnesium as this ingredient best helps to quiet nerves and soothe hiccups.
- Add compression to the chest. Lean forward, press on your diaphragm with your hand or pull your knees into your chest to create pressure that can help slow and stop hiccups.
For more hiccup cures, see:
2. Preventive Measures
Hiccups sometimes may be caused by poor eating habits. Improve them to effectively prevent hiccups.
- Drink moderately. Excessive alcohol consumption can mess with your digestive system causing hiccups. The more you drink the more chronic the condition can become.
- Eat more slowly. Eating too quickly can cause air to become trapped in between the pieces of food you are swallowing, and can set off the vagus nerve. Avoid that by taking time to chew and swallow between bites.
- Avoid overeating. Loading up your stomach with more food than it can handle in a sitting will cause hiccups. These hiccups are actually a way for your body to tell you to quit eating so you can have time to digest what’s in your stomach.
- Lay off spicy food. Spicy food can cause irritation in the lining of the esophagus and stomach. It can also cause acid in the stomach to enter into the esophagus. The extra acid can cause hiccups.
3. Medical Treatments
Most of the time, hiccups will go away on their own. However, hiccups that last for longer periods of time can mean that there are other factors at play in the body such as metabolic disorders, nervous system disorders, nerve irritation and prolonged substance abuse. If this happens to you consult a doctor.
- Chlorpromazine. This medication is classified as an antipsychotic traditionally used to treat patients with bipolar disorders and personality disorders. This drug also aids in reducing anxiety and nausea which can both be factors that cause hiccups and prolong them.
- Metoclopramide. Used to treat nausea, heartburn and indigestion metoclopramide can help the symptoms that can cause chronic hiccups to subside. It can also help ease the stomach pain that can be caused by prolonged hiccupping.
- Baclofen. Your diaphragm is a muscle, so naturally it makes sense to use a muscle relaxer like Baclofen to treat chronic hiccups. By relaxing your diaphragm with the use of a muscle relaxer the contractions in your abdomen can be effectively stopped.
- Injection. Some cases of persistent or chronic hiccups may require even more aggressive medical approaches than a medication regimen. Your doctor may suggest injecting anesthetic into your phrenic nerve to stop the hiccups.
- Implantation. Your condition may also require the implantation of a battery-operated device that will send mild electrical pulses to stimulate your vagus nerve.
- Acupuncture. If alternative medicine is more your thing you may try visiting an acupuncturist. Acupuncture works to balance your Qi (or Chi) by applying the point of a needle to various pressure points throughout your body. Different pressure points help to control the movements of different muscles and tissues in the body. Acupuncture can be used to help rebalance the movements in your abdomen muscles and stop persistent hiccupping.
Remember that each of these medications have their own set of positive results and side effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all of the risks and side effects that may come with the use of these medications before deciding which one to take.