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Home Remedies Offer Relief from Hiccups

Home Remedies Offer Relief from Hiccups

Q. I have had hiccups almost constantly for six months. I went to a gastroenterologist about this problem, and he prescribed omeprazole. It isn’t helping, however. Do you have any other suggestions?

A. Persistent hiccups can certainly be a problem. We trust the doctor ruled out any serious condition underlying your hiccups. We could find no well-controlled studies demonstrating that omeprazole (Prilosec) or any other acid-suppressing drug would work for chronic hiccups.

Long-lasting hiccups are thought to be the result of nerve irritation. Although home remedies are not well studied either, some may work through counter-irritation of the vagus nerve. Here are some suggestions from readers:
“Bite into a lime or lemon wedge. This is an old bar secret.”

Another bartender’s secret is “A spoonful of Angostura bitters all at once.”

A reader who also had a long-lasting problem shared this: “I had a bout of the hiccups for a couple weeks straight. It was a nightmare! I ended up going to a doctor who put a tube down my nose to let out trapped air in my stomach. Besides that, swallowing a teaspoon of sugar helps and so does this: have somebody cover your ears while you drink a glass of water.” This last technique works best if the person presses on the little flap at the front of the ear called the tragus.

Other readers have found benefit from a sip of pickle juice, an olive or a bit of vinegar.

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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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