The People's Perspective on Medicine

Odd Cure for Hiccups

Q. You have written about hiccups that will not go away. My husband had hiccups for four days and finally saw the doctor when his ribs started hurting.

His physician told him to use an enema suppository. He did, and the hiccups were gone within 24 hours. I hope this helps someone else.

A. Persistent hiccups require a medical workup to rule out any serious underlying cause such as a heart attack, pneumonia, pancreatitis, hepatitis or cancer.

When all else fails, doctors have found that massaging the rectum can be surprisingly effective. Over two decades ago an article in the Journal of Internal Medicine (Feb. 1990) reported that digital rectal massage resulted in a quick cure for intractable hiccups. Perhaps that is why your husband’s doctor suggested a suppository. We’re glad this approach worked so well.

For those with less severe hiccups who would prefer some less challenging remedies to get rid of hiccups we offer the following:

Q. I had hiccups every ten seconds by the clock. I tried all the tricks but the hiccups just would not stop.

I saw the doctor on the second day and he pulled out his reference book. The cure was benzonatate. Within two days I had no more hiccups. This drug really did the job. My home drug book says it works on the cough center of the brain.

A. Thanks for sharing your experience. When hiccups last that long, they can be extremely painful and disruptive. It is important for a physician to make sure nothing serious is causing the problem.

Benzonatate (Tessalon) is a non-narcotic prescription cough medicine. It is thought to work through a local anesthetic action, suppressing the cough reflex. We could find no studies of its use against persistent hiccups, but it is occasionally used off-label for this purpose.

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If home remedies for hiccups are more your style. Check out our Home Remedies Help Hiccups column.

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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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I have hiccups almost every day sometimes they hurt any suggestions I’ve tried EVERYTHING.

Gulp!

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