The People's Perspective on Medicine

Home Remedies Help Hiccups

Hiccups are generally considered a minor annoyance. Almost everyone has experienced this involuntary spasm of the diaphragm. As air rushes in, the glottis in the voice box is pulled closed and creates the sound doctors call “singultus.”

A normal bout of hiccups doesn’t last very long, but it can be embarrassing. Home remedies are the usual treatment. Doctors have even written about hiccup remedies in the medical literature. One classic remedy, a spoonful of granulated sugar swallowed dry, was recommended in The New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971).

Readers of this column have offered dozens of other suggestions. Here is one favorite: “I hope you will publish this hiccup cure, as it never fails. I was tormented with hiccups for years. They were so loud they could be heard up the block.

“Once I was in a car with a friend for ten hours and hiccupped the whole time. He never believed I couldn’t help it. That ended our friendship.

“I tried sugar, scaring and other things; then in college I found something that has never failed. I never worry about hiccups anymore since I can always get rid of them.

“The simple solution is to drink water while standing up and holding the ears closed. After years of being helped with this, having a second person hold my ears, I realized I could do it myself. I hold my ears closed with my thumbs, and hold the water glass with the four fingers of each hand. (I like the solo method much better. It keeps me from spitting the water out in laughter, for one thing.)

“How much water is needed depends on how bad the hiccups are. One glass usually works. If not, a second will do it. I think only once in decades have I had to use a third glass.

“If there is only a water fountain and no glass, hold the water in your mouth, stand up and swallow while holding your ears, then repeat. Finding this cure was worth the price of my senior year college tuition. I learned it in nutrition class.”

Another reader commented on this: “The person who said to hold your ears closed and drink a glass of water didn’t go far enough. You also have to hold your nose closed as well. Doing all three, closing the ears and nose and drinking water, has never failed me.”

Bartenders are a common source of hiccup remedy recommendations: “A tablespoon or two of Angostura bitters taken all at once always cures my hiccups. A bartender told me about this many years ago!”

Bartenders have also offered their hiccupping patrons a wedge of lemon, a shot of white vinegar or a green olive.

Some readers have truly unusual hiccup cures. One woman reported: “My husband had hiccups for four days and finally went to the doctor when his ribs started to hurt. The doctor told him to use an enema suppository. The hiccups were gone within 24 hours.”

A man suggested this: “The one SURE fire way to cure hiccups really does work 100 percent of the time, and that is ejaculation. At the point of sexual climax, the hiccups stop instantly.”

Another fellow reported that he uses his CPAP machine (prescribed for sleep apnea) to get rid of hiccups within a few minutes.

A physician should be consulted about hiccups that persist for a long time. In rare cases, hiccups are a symptom of something more serious.

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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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On the other hand, after I woke up Down the hiccups were gone thru returned after about half an hour.

I tried again in the afternoon and it worked again but only for half an hour.

I would like to thank you for the informative article you published regarding stopping hiccups by drinking water while holding your ears closed.
I have had the hiccups for 6 days and nothing would work. I even have a prescription to pick up at the pharmacy. This drug has some horrible side effects. I came across this article last night at 3AM. (Another sleepless night ) and tried it. I used a plastic cup, about six ounces. After the third cup, the hiccups were gone. I went right to sleep! I woke up at the alarm and they are still gone. While laying in bed thinking about the article, oops… HICCUP?? I IMMEDIATELY DID THE CURE AGAIN, 3 CUPS, GONE!!!
THANK YOU FOR PUBLISHING THIS. A REAL LIFESAVER.

You do NOT have to drink from the “opposite” side of the glass. I SIMPLY plug my ears with my thumbs, then cover my nose with my first fingers, then use the other 3 fingers to lift and drink the glass of water into my mouth (about an 8 oz. glass). Every single time, this method has cured my hiccups…after taking about 4 swallows. SO relieving. All the best to you and yours. I hope it works for you…I know it has worked for me. If something different works for you, please share.

What has worked for me every single time is to use my thumbs to cover my ears, and my 2 first fingers to cover my nose, then use my remaining fingers to hold the cup of water and gulp several times. Every single time that I have tried this method, the hiccups have been gone…including today…just a few minutes ago. I am SO relieved right now using the method that has served me for over 30 years. I hope this works for you, but I do not pretend to have the “solution” for everyone. I just know that closing the ears, and nose, while drinking 3 or 4 gulps of water (NOT backwards…but drinking the water forward from a cup) has worked for me EVERY time. Just remember, thumbs in ears, first fingers closing nose, then the other 3 fingers holding the cup of water you drink 3 or 4 gulps from….just saying, cured me every single time…like right now…I am so relieved.

Blocking my ears and drinking water really worked after 40 hours of non-stop hiccups. Thanks a lot!!

That is amazing it actually works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ??????????????????????? it is amazing

My neighbor, after 4 hrs of non-stop hiccups, tried every remedy we could think of. Holding the ears closed while drinking and a glass of water did the trick!! THANK YOU! !!!

One remedy that always works for me is holding your nose while you’re drinking water. I always did that and it always works :o)

Hiccups? Can be quite distressing.
I have had problem hiccups On 3-5 short-term occasions during my ‘adult’ life.
I had on one occasion wherein these disturbing spasms lasted over 48 hours.
Solution discovered: Vinegar– nipa or asian type.
One teaspoon taken as: Caress & swallow it, like a fine noir wine.
Hiccups will be gone– as in ‘poof’ it’s magic.
This is a most significant cure.
My opinion.

I just cured a horrible case of the hiccups by eating one large, green olive! It worked! I’m so glad I had read that cure on The People’s Pharmacy website several months ago. It came in handy tonight!

Hi Joe and Teresa: Saw someone’s “QUESTION” in yesterday’s Hartford Courant on Hiccups. I thought I’d respond in kind to say that when my husband gets the hciiups, I give him pineapple juice. I do not know what it is in the juice, perhaps the acid, but it works every time and it sure beats medication which the MDs want to prescribe!!
Hope you can sheare this with your readers.
Enjoy yur column each and every Sunday.
Regards, Janit R.

I am now 72 years old and all the time I was growing up, my mother taught me to get rid of hiccups by “drinking out of the back side of a glass.” This is done by leaning over as far as possible & drinking from a glass. It is necessary to swallow while as bent over as possible. This has always worked for me & my siblings, my children & now my grandchildren & great-grandchildren.

My remedy that has worked on my family and every person I have tried it on for over 20 years is easier and somewhat less humiliating than many others I have read or heard about. (as long as you find a lonely place to do it.) It is to place a paper grocery bag over your head while you slowly drink a glass of water. It only takes about 6-8 ounces, but drinking more won’t hurt. A good kitchen Dixie cup is great for fitting under the bag and I think it has more to do with the air intake and breathing than the actual water intake. 5-10 seconds of drinking and they are gone for good every time.

I have been successful at stopping hiccups by breathing slowly (moderately deep breaths but timing is more important), closing eyes slightly, then staring at any horizontal line (like the top or bottom of a wall) while “visualizing” the imaginary ends of the line to the far right and left. It’s really just a quick meditation technique. Harder to do in a crowded or noisy room, however, you have to ignore the surrounding activities and conversations.

My husband was hospitalized for an obstruction in the small intestine, after vomiting and hiccuping for 2 days. Surgery was not an option according to two surgeons since he has Parkinson’s. The constant hiccuping would not stop for 2 weeks in the hospital no matter what medication was given. After one week in ICU and one week in DOU he was transported to a SNF for almost 3 weeks for rehab. The doctor in charge at the SNF prescribed 10mg Thorazine as a last resort. It worked ! After a 1-2 doses daily for 2-3 days it finally stopped. He is home now and these horrible hiccups have finally stopped. I hope this will help somebody when nothing else works.

The method I use is to relax my tongue and let the edges of my tongue just lay in the bottom of my mouth. Hiccups disappear in about 5 to 10 seconds. It was explained to me that the tongue is a very strong muscle and if you relax the tongue many other muscles also relax including the diaphragm. This works for me but not for some friends who have tried it.

Among all the suggested remedies for hiccups, I’ve never seen the one I use mentioned, and it’s so simple! Drink a glass of water from the opposite side of the glass! Of course, you have to bend over so your head is upside down to do it, but it works every time, at least for me! :)

Can hiccups also be a signal for a possible and/or ulcer?
MCM

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