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Do You Need Help for Hiccup Cure?

Do you have a favorite hiccup cure? Readers share some of their favorites, from drinking water while holding your ears to sucking on chocolate chips.
Do You Need Help for Hiccup Cure?
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What do you do when you have the hiccups? Do you have a hiccup cure that works well for you? One reader found a great technique, but you may find it easier if you can get help.

Water-Drinking, Ear-Holding Hiccup Cure:

Q. Thank you for writing about stopping hiccups by drinking water while holding your ears closed. I’ve had hiccups for six days and nothing worked to stop them.

I was searching the internet last night because the hiccups wouldn’t let me sleep. When I came across your article at 3 am, I tried the technique. The hiccups disappeared and I went right to sleep! This remedy was a life saver.

You Might Need Help for This:

A. Drinking water while holding your ears closed is tricky on your own. The little flap at the front edge of the ear is called the tragus. It is much easier if you have someone to help hold down the tragus while you drink.

This is not the only hiccup cure that readers love. People claim an enormous variety of things work to stop hiccups. These range from scaring someone, which we doubt is effective, to having the victim swallow a spoonful of sugar. This remedy has been approved by doctors, as you will see below. Here’s another crowd-pleaser.

Chasing Away Hiccups with Chocolate:

Q. The absolute best cure I’ve ever found for hiccups is CHOCOLATE. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Keep some 70 to 90 percent cocoa dark chocolate on hand. (Lindt is good.) Smooth a bite of the chocolate on the roof of your mouth and be amazed at how fast your hiccups disappear!

Don’t worry about chocolate making you fat. Unsweetened dark chocolate is beneficial. (Milk chocolate, though, is not good for dieters.) You’ll thank me for this cure.

Chocolate as a Hiccup Cure:

A. We first heard about using chocolate as a home remedy for hiccups from a listener who called our radio show. Her Danish grandmother had always dispensed a few chocolate chips to a child with hiccups.

We have since heard from others who agree that chocolate can help stop hiccups.

Here’s one reader’s hiccup cure story:

“I discovered this remedy one day after repeated bouts of hiccups. I became aggravated and decided that if I was going to have them, I was going to have them with chocolate. They stopped immediately, much to my surprise. The chocolate remedy has been foolproof for years now.”

Presumably some of the cocoa flavanol compounds are able to stimulate the vagus nerve to counteract hiccups (Petroianu, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 2015). We can’t think of a tastier remedy to chase away the hiccups.

The Water Cure:

One of the most common remedies for hiccups is drinking water. Here is one way to accomplish this hiccup cure:

Q. My mother taught me an easy trick for hiccups that always works for me.

Get a glass full of water and bend forward from the waist into a right angle. Start drinking the water as you slowly rise up until the glass is empty when you are standing fully upright again.

This always works for me and others I’ve told about it.

A. Your mother’s remedy sounds similar to another time-honored hiccup remedy: drinking water from the far side of the glass. You have to bend over to manage this.

Synchronized Sipping:

Another reader recommends:

“I am a retired teacher and this is what I taught my students to do to stop hiccups. It worked every time.

“A hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm in your chest. If you happen to be swallowing at the time of the spasm, you counteract it. So note the amount of time between hiccups and just before another hiccup is due, start taking continuous small sips of water.

“If you don’t happen to be swallowing when another hiccup occurs, wait and try again. It may take a time or two, but as soon as you can swallow when the hiccup is happening, the hiccups stop.”

A Spoonful of Sugar:

Another popular remedy is to swallow a teaspoonful of dry granulated sugar. This is nearly as widely available as a glass of water and seems to work just as well. Doctors often recommend it; there was even a small study published long ago in The New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971).

In it, the physician in charge had 20 study subjects who had been suffering with hiccups for several hours (in some cases, several days) swallow a teaspoonful of ordinary white sugar. This remedy worked in 19 of the 20.

The researcher did not have a placebo arm for this study, so we don’t know how much the volunteers’ expectation of benefit may have contributed to the results. But there is no reason not to put that same expectation to work for the next person you encounter who can’t stop hiccupping.

Other Hiccup Remedies:

There are, of course, many other hiccup remedies. One of the simplest is sipping water. It can be made more challenging by sipping from the opposite side of the glass, bending over and slowly straightening up while sipping or synchronizing the sip with the hiccup. You can read what we have written about those remedies here.

There are plenty of other hiccup remedies. We demonstrate a few of them in this video. You’ll find many others in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. Let us know what your favorite is.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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