- anyone who cannot stop hiccupping for more than 48 hours should contact their physician
- Hiccups occur in the diaphragm, which is the muscle separating the chest from the abdomen
- Hiccups can occur after someone becomes excited, or consumes carbonated beverages, alcohol, or large or spicy meals.
- This nerve is connected to the diaphragm.
- There are many home remedies that use drink or food to eradicate hiccups
Hiccups can be downright aggravating, especially when everything you try will not get rid of them. Most people only experience them for a few minutes, but in other cases, they can go on for as long as several months. The latter are referred to as long-term hiccups, and anyone who cannot stop hiccupping for more than 48 hours should contact their physician. Other reasons for calling the doctor are if the hiccups interfere with breathing, sleeping, or eating.
Causes of Hiccups
Hiccups occur in the diaphragm, which is the muscle separating the chest from the abdomen. It is shaped like a dome and is located under the lungs. When you breathe in the diaphragm squeezes down, creating a vacuum that pushes fresh air into the lungs. When you breathe out it relaxes upwards, allowing the lungs to deflate. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily and the voice box contracts, making the vocal cords close suddenly. The flow of air is blocked, and this is how the “hic” sound occurs.
Hiccups can occur after someone becomes excited or consumes carbonated beverages, alcohol, or large or spicy meals. Sometimes, they seem to appear out of nowhere. Hiccups often take longer to go away than one would like, and this is why people have devised so many ways to stop them. Here are five that may work.
5. Plugging Your Ears
One method to stop hiccupping is to plug your fingers into your ears for about 20 to 30 seconds. If this is not successful, ask a friend to help you out with another version. Get a six- to eight-ounce glass of water, and ask them to hold it while you plug your ears with your fingers. Have them hold the glass for you to drink while you are holding your ears shut. Swallow as much water as you can, but not too fast. Do not remove your fingers until you finish drinking and your friend pulls the glass away. If no one is there to help, you may be able to do this yourself with a paper cup.
Another alternative is to push gently on the soft area just behind your earlobes, below the base of your skull. According to Reader’s Digest, this transmits a signal to relax to the vagus nerve. This nerve is connected to the diaphragm.
4. Eat or Drink Something
There are many home remedies that use drink or food to eradicate hiccups. Some people feel that slowly drinking an entire glass of warm water without breathing works, while others sip a glass of very cold water; gargling with ice water is another choice.
A popular remedy is drinking from the far side of a glass, which can be hard to figure out at first (and messy if you spill a lot!). Take a glass of water, stand up, and bend over. Place your mouth at the opposite side of the glass. Then, tilt it away from your body and drink. You may want to do this one over a sink!
Sweet and sour tastes may also work for some people. Putting a few drops of vinegar in your mouth or sucking a thin slice of lemon are also worth trying. Or, try putting a bit of granulated sugar or a teaspoon of honey on your tongue. When it melts, you can simply swallow it.
Breathing deeply and slowly into a small paper bag is recommended for people who feel nauseous, and it may also get rid of hiccups. Some feel that doing this increases the blood’s carbon dioxide levels, which makes the diaphragm contract deeper, bringing in more oxygen.
Holding your breath for 10 seconds, breathing out slowly, and repeating this several times is another suggestion. You can also try bringing your knees into your chest and hugging them for two minutes, while breathing slowly. One of the best-known remedies, though, is to just hold your breath.
Another way to stimulate the vagus nerve is to pull on your tongue. Grab a clean washcloth, as this is less slippery than your fingers. Pull gently and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. If this is not successful, you can try putting gentle pressure on both sides of your nose while swallowing; gentle pressure on the diaphragm could also work.
One of the most familiar ways to stop hiccups is to have someone scare you. Like most of these remedies, the results are mixed. Hiccups may also go away if you stop paying attention to them. This can be done by turning on the television, picking up a good book, or starting a crossword puzzle.
When Hiccups are Serious
Long-lasting hiccups could be a sign of an underlying condition, like multiple sclerosis, stroke, or gastroesophageal reflux. If you have tried everything and are still experiencing chronic hiccups after 48 hours, call your doctor. Medications like Reglan, Gablofen, and Thorazine may be prescribed in some cases.