Hiccups – those annoying diaphragm spasms brought on by a malfunction of the vagas nerve (the same one that makes you cough) – can be brought on by eating or drinking too much or too fast, standing up suddenly, sitting or laying down too quickly, getting nervous, becoming excited, eating something very spicy, or sometimes for no reason at all.
Hiccups can come upon us out of the blue and they’re not always easy to get rid of. The methods for curing hiccups can get very creative and not all of them work for everyone. Others still will only work once on an individual before they become ineffective. So what is a hiccuping person to do?
No matter what trick you use, the science behind the technique remains the same. In order to get rid of hiccups, you have to reset the involuntary rhythm of your spasming diaphragm. Here is a list of 40 quick tricks to stop your hiccups. It might be wise to pin this page so you can refer back to it when hiccups strike!
Food and Drink Methods
The idea behind each of these techniques is to overload your senses and distract your body from the spasms that are causing you to hiccup.
1. Place a teaspoon of sugar on the back of your tongue and let it melt there. Resist the urge to swallow until the sugar is totally dissolved.
2. Suck on a slice of lemon. Not enough for you? Try pouring a few drops of bitters on the lemon slice first. Then suck on it.
3. Gargle with salt water.
4. Chew on a piece of licorice root.
5. Drink a teaspoon or two of pickle juice or straight apple cider vinegar.
6. Eat a teaspoon of peanut butter or some other type of nut butter (almond, cashew, hazelnut, etc.)
7. Drink some ice cold water. For some people this works better if you drink slowly. For others it works to drink very fast. Beware of brain freeze!
8. Take an antacid containing magnesium.
More Drink Methods
All of these tricks combine the simple act of drinking water with performing some unusual physical action in order to reset your breathing pattern.
9. Tilt your head to the right or left and drink from the side of the glass.
10. Lean forward, tilt the glass away from yourself, and drink from the back of the rim.
11. Cover the top of the glass with a paper towel and drink through it.Drop some fresh herbs in the glass.
12. Concentrate on drinking the water without getting any of the herbs in your mouth.
13. Drink a glass of carbonated water very quickly. Burp a lot. Repeat this process until your hiccups go away (or until you get tired of burping.)
14. Place a pencil horizontally between your teeth and try to drink a full glass of water without removing it.
Distract Your Vagas Nerve
There are several good methods for curing hiccups which involve stimulating the vagas nerve in order to distract it and hopefully stop the spasms.
15. Tickle the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab.
16. Gently draw a toothpick along the roof of your mouth.
17. Put your fingers in your ears and wiggle them around.
18. Breath in as far as you can and hold it. Then stick out your tongue and tug on it.
19. Stretch your face muscles by perform the Lion’s Breath yoga pose.
Use Pressure Points
There are six possible pressure points which you can activate in order to stop hiccup spasms. Apply gentle pressure to any of these areas of the body:
20. The hollow at the base of the throat, between the collarbones.
21. Below the collarbones to either side of the breastbone.
22. About two inches above and an inch inward from the crease of your armpit. Pulling your arm in close to your body will cause a muscle to flex at this location.
23. The small indentation about an inch or so from the bottom of the breastbone.
24. At the bottom edge of the rib cage where the ninth rib cartilage connects to the eighth rib.
25. The small hollow just behind the ear lobe.
Use these tricks to alter your breathing pattern and force your diaphragm to stop spasming.
26. Draw in as much air as you can, then breath in a little bit more. Push your stomach out as far as you can and hold your breath for about twenty seconds. Then breath out slowly and count backwards from twenty. Repeat this three or four times.
27. Open your mouth as wide as you can and hold it that way for at least twenty seconds. If you need to swallow, try to do so without closing your mouth.
28. Breath into a small brown paper bag. The increase in carbon-dioxide in your bloodstream can help to reset your breathing and stop the hiccups.
29. Sit up straight in a chair. Breath in slowly and count to twenty. Then lean forward in the chair as you breath out. This will compress your diaphragm and force it to stop spasming.
30. Sit on the floor with your back against a wall. Breath in as much as you can then breath out slowly. Pull your knees up and hug them against your chest.
31. Stand up straight and reach with your hands out to either side as far as you can. Now breathe in slowly and count to twenty as you raise your arms over your head. Reach as high as you can then exhale slowly. Count backwards from twenty as you lower your arms back out to your sides. Repeat this process until your hiccups go away.
32. Do some quick cardiovascular exercises like jumping jacks, squats, or sit-ups to alter your breathing pattern.
Tricks for When You Have an Accomplice
If you’re lucky enough to have help, have someone perform one or more of these techniques on you.
33. Have someone startle you. Keep in mind that it has to be a good scare or this method won’t be as effective.
34. Be tickled. Assuming that you’re the kind of person who likes being tickled, this can be a great method to reset your breathing.
35. Have them bargain with you. For example, “Every time you hiccup, I get to pinch you.” The distraction should help to reset your diaphragm.
36. Have someone ask you an odd question. This works best if they can fit the question into a conversation like this:
“Hey, did you see that Angie posted pictures from the party on Facebook this morning? There’s a really good one of you making a walrus face with two straws stuck under your upper lip. Oh, by the way: What’s the capital of Azerbaijan?”
Of course, the same question rarely works on the same person more than once. Here are some examples of other questions that are almost 100% guaranteed to throw someone off:
“What is square root of 20?”
“When was the last time you rode a white horse?”
“Does an egret have four toes on each foot, or only three?”
Sometimes distracting your mind from thinking about hiccups can be enough to stop them.
37. Put on a favorite song and drum out the rhythm on the bottoms of your feet.
38. Play the alphabet game. Pick a random subject and try to come up with a related term for every letter of the alphabet starting with A and working sequentially to Z. By the time you’ve finished, your hiccups should be gone.
39. Dance around in circles and sing the chorus to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious a few times.
If you’ve tried everything else listed here and you still can’t seem to stop hiccuping, here’s one more quick trick that might work:
40. Read this excerpt from Wikipedia:
“Charles Osborne (December 14, 1892 – May 1, 1991) hiccupped continuously for 68 years (1922–1990). Osborne was from Anthon, Iowa, U.S., and he was entered in Guinness World Records as the man with the Longest Attack of Hiccups. His condition also led him to be a guest on the New York radio show Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in 1936, ABC’s That’s Incredible! in 1980, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1983. He appeared in an article by Dear Abby, was drawn as a comic for a Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrapper, is listed as a trivia question on the iPod Touch, and was featured as a question in the board game Trivial Pursuit.
“Osborne began hiccuping in 1922, after a 350-pound hog collapsed on top of him while he was preparing to slaughter it. The hiccups persisted for 68 years, about one hic every 10 seconds. It is speculated that either an abdomen muscle was pulled or a blood vessel in the brain burst and destroyed the part of the brain stem that inhibits hiccups. Operations were attempted to stop the hiccups, but proved unsuccessful. Hormone therapy stopped the hiccups for 36 hours, but was stopped due to other health problems.
“The hiccups stopped when he was 97. Osborne died of complications from ulcers at Marian Health Center in Sioux City, Iowa on May 1, 1991.”
Try to imagine hiccuping for 68 years straight!