The People's Perspective on Medicine

An Unexpected Trick For Curing Hiccups

Have you ever heard of a teaspoonful of sugar to help with curing hiccups? What about pickle juice or sucking on an olive? We've got a new one: acupressure!
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We have been collecting hiccup remedies for more than 45 years. The first one was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971).  A physician experimented with granulated white sugar. He had 20 participants in his study. They had all been complaining about hiccups. Some had hiccups for several days. Others, more like several hours. They all were told to swallow a teaspoon of table sugar. In his summary of the results, 19 out of 20 subjects got relief from their hiccups. Some critics might complain that this was not a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. But either you have hiccups or you don’t. Here’s the latest trick for curing hiccups.

Curing Hiccups with Acupressure:

Q. I sometimes get hiccups right after eating. If I’m in a restaurant, I can’t always stop them with any of the tricks that usually work, like a lemon wedge with bitters.

One night, our waitress told me of an acupressure technique. She worked as a massage therapist for her day job and had studied pressure points.

She told me to pinch the sides of both index fingertips at the same time. This requires a bit of finger gymnastics, but it can be done. My hiccups stopped almost immediately. I’ve used that technique multiple times since and it has worked every time.

A. Thanks for sharing this unusual hiccup remedy. Many home cures for hiccups involve drinking something, sometimes in an unusual posture (ie, to drink from the far side of the cup, you have to bend over it).

In a restaurant, you might be able to get an olive to eat or some dill pickle juice to sip. These are other favorites, similar to sucking on a lemon wedge sprinkled with Angostura bitters. A sugar packet should also be available in a restaurant

If you love home remedies and would like to read about more tricks for curing hiccups, why not consult our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

Share your own favorite trick for curing hiccups in the comment section.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I just hold my breath, and that usually works. My husband had them so bad one time, and I was becoming quite annoyed listening to them. I know, I need to practice more patience. However, nothing was working for him. Finally, I yelled real loud at him to quit it. It scared him so badly that they stopped. Now when he has the hiccups he thinks back to the time I scared him by yelling at him, and he stops. Evidently it is a cure for life.

I”ve used the sugar cure for years–this is especially easy if you are in a restaurant and is fairly inconspicuous. But years ago I learned of the finger pressing method–they recommended using spring clothes pins on the 1st and 2nd finger of each hand, and its works well too. However, one night when I didn’t have clothes pins in a restaurant, I just figured out how to put pressure on those fingers (using both hands) and the hiccups went away! I’ve done it ever since!

I’ve found this works: with my lips in a “whistling” position, I take in a slow deep breath then blow it out in a slow, steady stream. The lips act as a kind of block, making it a challenge to breathe in and out. Usually takes around 2-3 breaths, and the hiccups are gone!

When I was younger, I tried the spoonful of sugar, and it worked. Since I stay away from sweets now as an adult, I abandoned that. For decades I have used the small paper bag trick. Take a small bag, like lunch bag size and form the opening into a circle that you can place tightly over your mouth. Plastic bags may work as well, but I’ve always used little brown lunchbags. Hold it in place over your mouth, breathing in and out. It appears that the carbon dioxide causes the diaphram to release the spasms causing hiccups after a few breaths.

If I can do this after the first hiccup, it pretty much always works. Just several very deep, slow breaths after that first hiccup. Won’t work for me after the second hiccup. Then I need to find a spoonful of sugar, my backup plan.

60 yrs ago I learned a technique from Germany. My hands are large enough to do this by myself but others may need a partner. Fill a glass or mug with water; pinch nostrils closed and plug ears with thumbs. Take deep breath then, holding the glass with 4th and 5th fingers, submerge upper lip below water line and take 10 rapid sips without letting any air enter mouth. Usually works on 1st try, but if not always on the 2nd.

I taught middle school for a number of years, and their favorite trick was to feign the hiccups to be allowed to leave the classroom for water, supposedly. I would ask them to face the class and wait for a hiccup. It never came. Since then when I really have the hiccups, I try hard to concentrate on the next hiccup, and it never comes.

After reading all the possible cures for the hiccups – it appears to me that diverting your attention to something other than the hiccups – which is not always easy to do – is what stops them. So just re-focus! Sounds easy. Will try it next time time I get them.

Apple cider vinegar to the rescue! My husband has horrible hiccups that drive him (and me) crazy. He cures them immediately with a slug of ACV!

I had heard of using sugar for hiccups a long time ago and as an RN I had many occasions to use this cure. It worked every time. Typically I would use a super packet.

One cure for hiccups. Breathe in and out into a bag for a minute. The carbon monoxide paralyzes the hiccups.

A doctor friend shared this simple cure for hiccups with my family about 40 years ago, and it almost always works. Have someone press gently on both your temples as you drink a glass of water (or any liquid, really). It usually stops hiccups in a couple of swallows.

I’f you have the hiccups, I have a cure. You fill a glass or cup of water, place a paper towel or napkin on top, hold around the cup so it’s tight. Take 2 or 3 sips on top of the paper towel or napkin. That’s it, no more hiccups. It’s pretty amazing!

I have mentioned this home remedy before…please take it seriously…it NEVER fails……..offer the person £5 or £10 pounds if they can hiccup three times in thirty seconds ( hold the money in front of them).. I have never seen more than one hiccup..and never lost any money..please try it

I’ve never seen this one & it has the advantage of not requiring special equipment. AND you can do it anywhere.
Take a deep breath, and while holding it, swallow TEN times.
(Bet you can’t won’t be able to. The first one is easy, 2nd a little harder& so on….I’ve never made it above six before I have to stop & take a breath). This technique has never failed me since I started using it about 45 years ago. (But I don’t get hiccups ALL that often.)

My mother taught me to help others get rid of hiccups. Both parties have to be really committed to getting relief. I ask the person with the hiccups “may I have your hiccups?” The hiccuper, with great concentration, says “yes” and puts the fingers of one hand to her lips and literally pass the hiccups from her lips to me. It works almost always and my husband can do it occasionally.

Not a hoax!

My husband takes Amiodarone for irregular heart beat. Our pharmacy changed to another brand, and he started having multiple problems each day plus fatigued. Pharmcy allowed him to go back to Zudus the good one, and the majority of his problems went away. I reported to FDA, Dr. and the pharmacy, but worried that others are having same problem and haven’t associated with the mfg. change. Advice on how to notify others?

My mother used to SCARE me to get rid of hiccups. It worked!

I’ve always used the spoonful of sugar, my grandmother’s cure, and I’m 82. It’s always worked, but I like the idea of pinching the sides of the index fingers since I no longer eat sugar.

I found that laughing is the best way to get rid of hiccups.Find something funny to watch or think about,or just laugh about having the wonky hiccups!Laughter really is the best medicine,since I think most of the time we get hiccups because of being stressed or tense.
Having a good belly laugh can be the best medicine for relaxing.

Just holding your breath (tightening up muscles in the chest and upper abdomen) is so much easier!

As a frequent ‘hiccuper’ I’d like to see how one would do this. Maybe a drawing? A video?

My physician father taught me one that always works.

Take a very deep breath and push a finger in each ear. Hold your breath as long as you can and then let it out slowly and force it out completely. Keep holding your breath even if you hic in the middle. It usually works the first time, but it can be repeated.

He explained how it works but I was a child. I think it was about forcing CO2 out of the diaphragm.

Warning: Make sure your fingernails are not too long before pressing them into your ears.

Of interest, I have a granddaughter with recurring hiccups and decided to show her the index finger compression technique. Doing this precipitated the problem. We waited for a few minutes and repeated the compression and the hiccups stopped almost immediately. She is 9 years old. INTERESTING!?

I drink water upside down. It works maybe only as a psychosomatic response.

Would you mind posting a photo of the “finger gymnastics” involved in the new hiccup cure?

Hiccups remedy: Take in a mouthful of water, but don’t swallow. Bend over at waist and point head downward, then swallow. Have never seen this fail with kids and adults. Believe it interrupts spasms in the diaphram.

I developed my own cure for hiccups after using a swallow of peanut butter, which worked. I didn’t always have peanut butter with me but theorized it wasn’t the peanut butter stopping them. Rather, it was swallowing hard. I tried swallowed hard AS IF trying to swallow peanut butter and found it stops hiccups every time.

The remedy that works the best for me is one that I read about in a People’s Pharmacy newsletter more than ten years ago. It is pinching one of your ear lobes until the hiccups go away. It always works after one hiccup for me.

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