There's nothing more frustrating than hiccuping for what feels like an eternity. It's annoying, it interrupts your regular talking and breathing, and they can hurt.
Hiccups are sudden contractions in the diaphragm, which is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle and tendon in your chest. The diaphragm serves as the main muscle of respiration and controls your breathing. Hiccups occur when your diaphragm becomes irritated it jerks downward, causing you to abruptly draw in air. This spasm happens alongside a contraction in the voice box, which produces the audible hiccup noise. There are a few factors that can prompt an episode of hiccups, including drinking carbonated drinks, eating too quickly, laughing too hard, drinking too much or experiencing a burst of excitement.
Almost all cases of hiccups only lasts for a few minutes, but those minutes can be beyond irritating. There are dozens of theories and anecdotes on how to get rid of hiccups, though most possible cures lack scientific trial and evidence. Here are some of the most popular hiccup remedies:
Use your hands to cup your nose and mouth, or breathe into a paper bag. This provides an abundance of carbon dioxide, which can subdue the spasm in your diaphragm get rid of your hiccups. Some people have shown to benefit from this exercise, though researchers are unsure what makes carbon dioxide a seemingly effective hiccups cure.
Hold your breath. If that doesn't work, hold your breath for about 10 seconds or so, exhale slowly, and repeat until the hiccups go away. This theory is also related to carbon dioxide buildup, in that as your lungs fill with the gas, your diaphragm relaxes and returns to its normal rhythm.
You might look a little silly, but sticking out your tongue is theorized to be a hiccup cure. When you stick out your tongue, you stimulate the contracting vocal chords and can help them and your diaphragm regulate. If you try this method and are still a hiccups victim, try pulling gently on your tongue with your fingers.
With fingers firmly plugged into both ears, slowly drink a glass of water. Either have a friend help feed the water to you or just drink it through a straw if you're by yourself.
Canadian physician Dr. Ronald Goldstein raved about the effectiveness of this method in his 1999 article "Practice tips. Simple method for curing hiccups."
"I have used this technique many times during social occasions and during my emergency practice," Goldstein wrote. "I have been successful with the most resistant of hiccups, even those who have 'bounced back' from a previous pharmaceutical attempt at cure."
Yep, just straight, granulated sugar. The recommendation varies from a pinch to an entire spoonful.
Eating sugar is one of the remedies that has been formally tested -- a 1971 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine stated that of 20 hiccup-plagued patients who were administered granulated sugar, 19 of them were rid of their hiccups.
You can easily compress your chest by hinging at the hips and leaning forward, or by sitting and hugging your knees into your chest. This posture can act as a counter-irritation on the diaphragm and make your hiccups go away.
Dr. Oz himself claims this trick works to get rid of hiccups. The cold water will soothe your contracting muscles and calm your spasming diaphragm. Just be careful to not swallow any ice cubes.
Place your finger on the base of your tongue and gently press -- don't just shove your fingers into your throat. The theory behind this method is that the brief interruption of your breathing by gagging causes the diaphragm to return to its normal rhythm and eliminating the hiccups.
Hiccups are all about irritated nerves, so stimulating your body's pressure points is another remedy that might help to get rid of the spasms and contractions that cause this irritability.
Try pulling on your tongue or pinching the tip between your finger and thumb, or even pressing hard into the palm of your hand to activate the nerves. Even massaging the top of your mouth with a cotton swab can activate your vagas nerve and calm your diaphragm.
Commonly known as the 'bartender's hiccup cure,' for this remedy all you need is a lemon and a bottle of bitters. Cut the lemon into a wedge and douse it with a few drops of bitters, then either eat or chew on it for a minute or so. It'll pucker your lips, but it will cure your hiccups if you can handle the taste.
Back in 1981, Dr. Jay Howard Herman and a bartender David S. Nolan put this cure to the test. Their study "A Bitter Cure" was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported that of the 16 patients they tried this remedy on, 14 of them experienced their hiccups end in under a minute -- that's an 88 percent success rate.
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