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Hiccups: Dealing With Them Naturally

Updated on February 25, 2014

What Are Hiccups?

Oh, my goodness. I haven't had hiccups in a long time. I remember as a child that I got those a lot and I'm sure everybody remembers, too, and still get them from time to time. I remember some of the silly ways that my sister tried to deal with them. It ranged from making loud noises to scaring the living hell out of me. You know, those silly wives' tales? Those are the days...sorry, I digress. Let's get back on track, ladies and gentlemen.

What are hiccups? Hiccups are caused when the diaphragm spasms and the spasm causes us to take in a breath of air, which is stopped by the closure of our vocal cords, thus creating that familiar 'hiccup' sound. There are a number of ways that hiccups are caused and the duration of these spasms vary. Let's explore.

Possible Causes

  • It is said that hiccups may be triggered by irritation or stimulation of a certain nerve called the vagus nerve, according to Web MD.
  • Of course, drinking carbonated beverages can increase the likelihood of hiccups because of the bubbles in the drink. The bubbles can cause the diaphragm to spasm.


How Do You Handle Your Hiccups?

See results

Home Remedies

  • To begin, there is the obvious solution of inhaling deeply and holding your breath for ten seconds. Inhale again (without exhaling) and hold it for another five seconds. This technique was developed by Dr. Luc G. Morris. By increasing the carbon dioxide levels (and expanding the lungs), this immobilizes the diaphragm.
  • Then there's sugar (domino sugar). Whenever I got the hiccups, my sister made me swallow a small amount of sugar dry (give or take a teaspoon of the stuff). The sugar prevents the nerve impulses from directing the diaphragm from doing a spasm.
  • Have you tried Q-Tips? If you tickle the roof in the back of your mouth, it'll trigger the gag reflex and the reflex will disrupt those embarrassing spasms that we suffer from.
  • ReaLemon. Oh, boy. I would be afraid of taking lemon juice and I don't care if I am a little bit old to be afraid of such a thing, unless I am desperate to try anything. The acidity of the lemon juice and the shock can disrupt hiccups. If you are brave enough (or desperate enough) to try it, go for it by all means!
  • Tabasco Pepper Sauce. Okay, I can see why this would be used as a potential cure. Once you swallow a few drops of the sauce, the burning that comes with Tabasco keeps the body from registering the spasms in our diaphragms.

Another home remedy. The acts of chewing and swallowing peanut butter gets the diaphragm back into place
Another home remedy. The acts of chewing and swallowing peanut butter gets the diaphragm back into place

Persistent Hiccups and Intractable Hiccups

  • Typically, hiccups go away on their own after a few minutes or a few hours. However, if they persist for more than two days then they are called (hence the title) Persistent Hiccups. If they last for more than a month then they are called Intractable Hiccups.
  • Both persistent and Intractable hiccups can indicate a potential health problem (s) such as cancer, stroke, etc.
  • Treatment: It depends on the underlying causes of these hiccups in order to determine treatment--which I will get into another time

'Traditional' Ways of Curing Hiccups

  • As mentioned, the obvious, and traditional, way of putting a stop to these embarrassing spasms is holding your breath for ten seconds and repeat in order to increase the amount of Carbon Dioxide in our system.
  • Scaring the living daylights out out of the victim...I mean, patient. I would say that this is a very old wives' tale in folklore that you still see now and again. Unfortunately, it wasn't very effective for me. I kept laughing afterwards at my sister's attempts, thus worsening my hiccups as a kid.
  • Drinking water from a glass upside down. Good luck to whoever attempts this! Personally, I think this is not so 'tried and true.' I'm not sure what that does for you, except maybe get water up your nose. Folklore.
  • Handstands. I haven't found anything on this, to tell you the truth. I will be surprised if I find that gravity is supposed to disrupt muscle spasms. If I do find something on this, I will update this hub ASAP. For now, I will label this as folklore

To Sum It Up

  • Hiccups can possibly be caused by the irritation of the vegus nerve.
  • Hiccups occur when the diaphragm spasms
  • There are number of home remedies (ones that aren't folklore) that can help cure this spasm of the diaphragm, such as taking a deep breath and holding it for ten seconds before repeating the process (without exhaling, of course).
  • Hiccups can be persistent and intractable

Keep on checking those pantries! It might save you a trip to the doctor!

© 2014 writinglover2


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    • writinglover2 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thanks for reading, FatFreddysCat!

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 

      4 years ago from The Garden State

      Holding my breath for fifteen or 20 seconds has always worked for me, but there are some other ideas here that may be useful for when that doesn't work. Thanx for the tips.

    • writinglover2 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Hm...very interesting, Faith! If I get the hiccups, I'll have to try that! Thanks for reading!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Thanks for sharing about the remedies that work for hiccups! Hiccups are so irritating for sure. Believe it or not, what works for me is placing one finger behind the opposite ear and pressing for several seconds, or maybe a minute or less.

      Up and more and sharing.


      Faith Reaper

    • writinglover2 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Thanks for reading, izzapharmacist! Vinegar sounds like another good one!

    • izzapharmacist profile image

      Bannie Faizza 

      4 years ago from Georgetown

      Thanks for sharing!

      For me, a teaspoonful of vinegar gives me a help.


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