The People's Perspective on Medicine

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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Jesus, I did it and my chronic hiccups instantly stopped. THANK YOU JOHN .. THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!

DJS May 2011 said “Serious hiccups can be managed by using the acupressure point in the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger of either hand.”
This works for me too. Press as hard as you can bear. You can do it to yourself or to someone else. My son was very doubtful but it worked for him too. I was taught it by a Chinese friend who practiced acupuncture.
A spoonful of sugar has also worked for me.

close off one nostril with your thumb pad and breathe through the other nostril. the hiccups will stop.

Serious hiccups can be managed by using the acupressure point in the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger of either hand. My Dad was hospitalized for months and hiccups were a recurring problem. This pressure point stopped them every time and gave him relief. Eventually the episodes stopped completely.

The easiest solution of all–drink a large glass of water all at once. Most of us don’t drink enough water (fluids) anyway and this usually works, especially for children.

The drinking water “upside down” as Kay states works every time! I’m a retired elementary school teacher and most of my students used this technique with success! Give it a try! Cheapest and easiest remedy around!

I was watching a special about an Emergency Hospital and a girl came in that had hiccups for a very long time and the doctor tried everything without success. Then he stated someone had told him about a way to cure them. And he said he had nothing to lose so he tried it and it cured them immediately. All he did was put pressure on the girls forehead and the hiccups stopped right away. I don’t remember exactly where he did it, but I know it stopped them right away. AND, I don’t know if it was all in the girl’s mind or not. Just thought I’d pass it along.

An Indian lady from Asia told me to drink water through a straw while pulling my earlobes. I live alone, and so far, it has worked every time, as I had to drink and pull my earlobes at the same time… I had hiccups often in the past, and this seems to be the answer for my occasional problem……

Many years ago I learned that hiccups are actually a spasm of the diaphragm muscle. Don’t know for sure if that’s all it is, but all muscles can become chronically spastic. One idea for releasing the spasm is to get on all fours on the floor and let your belly hang and relax. Breathe as normally as possible. Some people find that it’s easier to let their arms relax a bit also, by putting elbows, forearms and hands on the floor for more support. You can make modifications of this by using pillows for props and by being on a firm bed or other surface that will be easier to get off of than up from a floor. It may take up to 20 or 30 minutes for you to be able to relax that belly fully and breathe easily, but it usually just takes a few minutes. Stay there until you are fully relaxed and breathing normally.
It is better to do this if you haven’t eaten anything for several hours. Never do it after eating anything or drinking anything for at least 90 minutes prior. Of course, having hiccups decreases your ability to ingest food and water or digest it fully. Hope this helps!

I second the advice on the bitters. I got the hiccups at a Four Seasons lounge and the waiter rushed over some bitters. I was very skeptical but immediately, the hiccups were gone!

Eating a spoonful of prepared yellow mustard has never failed to stop them for me.

I have only ever had common hiccups, nothing lengthy or chronic, but I have always found that the hiccups stop when I do the following: stand very still, take a deep breath, hold your nose. I also put a hand over the stomach or diaphragm area to keep everything absolutely still. Hold your breath for 10-15 seconds, take another deep breath, and keep repeating this . On no account move anything in the diaphragm area and generally just do not move except for taking a deep breath when you need to. I have usually just had to take 3 or 4 breaths in this way before the hiccups stop. I was told that spasms in the diaphragm set off hiccups so stillness is essential.

I agree with the lemon or lime wedge for hiccups.
It really works!

someone told me to eat 2 or 3 green olives and other person press hard between (the angle) the index finger and the thumb. I never try this so I don’t know if it works.

Hiccups are painful for me, so I had to learn at an early age how to stop them. This method works every time. Take a drinking glass that’s fairly big around at the top, and fill it with water. Stand with your hips against a counter or wall. Lean over from the hips until your back is about parallel with the floor. Hold the glass in front of you and use your other hand to pinch your nose closed. Then, exhale the air in your chest, and drink, not from the rim of the glass nearest you, as you normally would, but from the rim of the glass FARTHEST from you. Your chin may kind of go inside the glass, and you may need to bend your head down just a little farther so that the water will flow into your mouth. (The water actually floods the roof of your mouth, not the bottom of it.) Take at least one mouthful and swallow it. You will feel your ears pop as you swallow. The hiccups will be gone.

In a very famous case of yore, a girl who had hiccups for 8 months and had tried every remedy went to a psychologist, who hooked her up to an electric shock machine which shocked her every time she hiccuped. She stopped very quickly.
Not something easily available.
I have cured hiccups with progressive muscle relaxation (Jacobson, 1936, or so).
I cure my own by lying down and counting between them. Just relaxing is the key. But I had a case once after eating a habanero pepper that lasted for 24 hours and nothing worked.

I also have read that a spoonful of peanut butter works. The sugar and vinegar are the most common methods to stop the hiccups. The sugar is suppose to be put towards the back of your throat and swallowed all at once.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: PEANUT BUTTER PROBABLY WORKS FOR THE SAME REASON SUGAR DOES, BUT WE NO LONGER RECOMMEND IT AS A HICCUP REMEDY. A SPOONFUL OF PEANUT BUTTER CAN POSE A CHOKING HAZARD.

I’ve had some luck with a spoonful of sugar, but a lot MORE luck with a small glass of one-part vinegar to three-parts water (it tastes awful, but it really does work, usually with just three or four small sips)
However, for any men reading, the one SURE fire way to cure hiccups comes from Mens Health magazine years and years ago, and it really does work 100 percent of the time, and that is . . . how do I say this politely . . . well, I’ll just say it: ejaculation. At the point of sexual climax, the hiccups stop instantly.
Not sure how it works for women, but speaking as a male, it really does work!
(and apologies if this is too graphic for your website!)

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