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Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Ever have a fit of hiccups? If you have, you know how annoying they are. In public they’re also downright embarrassing because everyone stares at you. Or they think it’s funny and start laughing at you. Believe me, there’s nothing funny about hiccups, and if you’ve ever been plagued by them, you know what I mean. The other day I started hiccupping right in the middle of a staff meeting! That was the end of the staff meeting. No one could concentrate on anything other than me and the sounds erupting from my mouth. Someone (and I’m not mentioning any names, but she knows I know who she is, and I’ll get even one of these days) had the audacity to start an office pool over how long my hiccups would last.

There have been home remedies for dealing with hiccups for generations. Do any of them work? I asked our health editor Janice Kerr to do a bit of research on the subject. Here’s what she found. 
-- AP

Janice here. Poor Anastasia really had it bad the other day. We did finally cure her with one of the remedies below. As for the office pool, all I can say is I didn’t start it, but my wallet thanks whomever did.

On to the serious stuff -- Hiccups are a reflex that occurs when the vagus nerve is irritated and causes your diaphragm to spasm. The diaphragm is the muscle that enables you to inhale and exhale. The most common cause of hiccups is digestive disturbance -- eating too fast, eating and talking at the same time, eating hot and spicy foods, indigestion, bloating, drinking too much alcohol -- but hiccups can occur for no reason at all.

There are lots of home remedies for hiccups. It’s believed that they work for one of two reasons. Some overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. Others interfere with breathing, thus causing the body to turn its attention to getting rid of carbon dioxide and forgetting about the hiccups.

Not every one of these remedies will work for everyone suffering from hiccups, and some may not work for anyone. There are a lot of old wives tales floating around about curing hiccups. But if you’re the one suffering, you’ll try anything, right? One or more of these just might work for you. (Note: if the hiccupping persists for more than 24 hours, see a doctor. It could be a symptom of a more serious health problem.)

  • Hold your breath
  • Gargle with water
  • Eat a teaspoon of sugar
  • Drink a glass of soda quickly
  • Drink a glass of ice water quickly
  • Place an ice pack on your diaphragm
  • Eat a teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Sniff black pepper
  • Sip a cup of water with a little baking soda sprinkled in it
  • Take a deep breath and hold it as long as you can
  • Drink a squeezed lemon
  • Place your fingers in your ears while slowly sipping water (use a straw)
  • Have someone scare the hiccups out of you
  • Pull on your tongue
  • Tickle the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab
  • Breath into a paper bag
  • Take an antacid
  • Chew and swallow dry bread
  • Suck on crushed ice

Do you have a hiccup remedy that works? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment this week, and your entered in the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP


Kathy said...

None of the above has ever worked for me. The only way I get rid of hiccups is to stay quiet, breathe slowly and wait for them to leave. I find that the more you think about getting rid of them the longer they stay. If I sit and watch TV or read a book and take my mind off of them, all of a sudden they're gone.

Kathye Quick said...

I usually hold my nose, block my ears and then try to swallow. If that doesn't work, I try to have heavy duty sex with my husband and gasp a lot.

Hey whatever it takes!


Kathye, Kathye, Kathye, you naughty girl!

Chris Redding said...

Hiccups can also be caused by a lack of potassium. It happened to me one really hot day. I must have had so much water that I washed away the potassium in my system. My sister gave me a banana. The hiccups went away before I was done.


Never heard that before, Chris. Thanks for stopping by and clueing us in.

Babs said...

My daughter in law said to me one day when I started hiccuping.."I'll give you $20 to hiccup again". It worked that time and it has worked ever sense...maybe the shock that someone is actually going to give you money, I don't know, but it works and I've tried it on others. works on some, not on others.
babs in alabama

Marian Allen said...

One of my ex-sons-in-law told me to concentrate on a point midway between the base of my throat and the center of my breastbone. Just concentrate my thought on it. It always works for me.