The People's Perspective on Medicine

Sugar for Hiccups

Hiccups are rarely serious, but they certainly can be annoying. There are dozens of remedies from holding your breath to drinking water from the far side of a glass. This is one we have been talking about since 1976. It’s simple and easy.

Q. My father has been plagued with hiccups at all hours of the day or night. His physician gave him samples of medications to try, but none worked. A friend of mine told me many years ago that a teaspoon of sugar stops hiccups. This is the only remedy that has worked. It is immediate and can last for hours. Sugar packets are easy to carry, too.

A. We found this simple remedy published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Dec. 23, 1971) and have been recommending it ever since. Anyone who has prolonged hiccups, however, should have a diagnostic workup to rule out a serious medical condition.

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
3.8- 12 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
$16.95

Home remedies can be surprisingly effective for a number of common ailments. They're less expensive with fewer side effects than prescription drugs. Time-tested solutions for minor health problems.

The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 66 comments
Comments
Add your comment

I found about a spoonful of sugar stops hiccups from a book called something like “Home Remedies…”, circa 1990’s. It works like a charm and have been using the method ever since. Sometimes I had to take another packet (or spoonful) or two, but it still stopped the hiccups. I will try the remedy of using several drops of vinegar with and without sugar that julie phillips April 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm said worked. I like to keep my sugar intake down. However how is that so many have concluded like me that the sugar alone works. Well I will still give the vinegar a try.

It’s not the graininess because it also works with confectioners sugar. I was out of regular this morning and tried it. Worked like a charm.

I have found chocolate ice cures hiccups immediately.

my parents and I have been using the a cure for well over 30 year.
get a teaspoon of sugar. add several drops of vinegar to the sugar. then eat the spoonful. the hiccups will vanish!
as far as we know the shock of the vinegar taste gets rid of the hiccups…the sugar was just to make it taste a bit better.

This tips worked well. When I got continuous hiccups, I swallowed the a teaspoon sugar. It worked.Try it …..

My Mom told me to do this, WOW does it work! I get hiccups a lot and they are annoying! I ate a sugar cube, it doesn’t matter if it melts or not, and slowly dissolved it in my mouth-HOLY! It’s magic!

Just tried this on my daughter, worked within seconds! Hurrah again for the Peoples Pharmacy…pulling out the knowledge!

My son and I have both tried it this week, with superlative results, in an even simpler method — only a sprinkling of sugar on the tip of the tongue. The hiccups vanish even before we swallow! So it’s not the swallowing that does it.

Reading everyone else’s comments I see a lot of people trying to swallow the dry sugar – ew! :) Growing up my mom always made us eat a spoonful of jelly (basically the same as the sugar) and that always worked. Then when I started working and there was no jelly easily available I started just drinking some sugar water and that worked too. So I see some people speculating that the effort of trying to swallow the dry sugar is what stops the hiccups but based on my research it seems to be the sugar itself since that is the only correlation between the jelly and the sugar. Eating a spoonful of jelly is much preferable than drinking sugar water though!

One of my office colleague was having hiccups and she couldn’t even answer the calls due to that.
After she came and told me about it, I asked her to have some sugar as I’ve seen it in one book.
But I never thought it would really work that fast.
It worked really fast.

I just started using sugar for hiccups and it works every time. I was never told to use a teaspoon or entire sugar packet so I just put a small pinch on my tongue and swallow. That’s is all I need and I have had friends try it with such a small amount and it works for them too. My friend had a 3 month old baby with hiccups which are hard to get rid of and although I do not typically give sugar to a small baby we gave him the tiniest amount (just a few granules) and that too worked instantly. Amazing!

I have been using sugar for as long as I can remember. I have violent hiccups ( which is actually your diaphragm out of rhythm) this usually happens when u eat to fast or too much. Can also be due to stress, or what I call a “burp” gone wrong. But sugar really works. Also, I know its not the way u swallow it so don’t choke or inhale the dry sugar. I’m guessing its a chemical reaction since other remedies usually fail unless placebo effect. I just put a teaspoon on my tongue and let dissolve, sometimes I hold my breath while it dissolves, but that may be for my benefit since holding your breath keeps you from almost vomiting while hiccuping, again mine are violent. Good luck and god speed.

I had the hiccups for two days and couldn’t sleep and I was determine to find a way to stop it. I felt I had chest pain but once I did it my chest instant relaxed and felt much better and it stopped. Best remedy I ever found and could be a clear.

I was born in San Jose Costa Rica. During my Junior year in High School, one of my classmates recommended a teaspoonful of sugar at the back end of your tongue., this was in 1962. It’s worked ever since and I have been recommend it to everyone I may add, successfully.

I had a bout of the hiccups for a couple weeks straight once – 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. That was definitely a cure haha. Besides that though, the sugar cure and also this helped a for temporary relief: have somebody cover your ears and drink a glass of water while they do.

I had just brushed my teeth and scanning for alternatives of the sugar trick. And I wanted to sleep which doesn’t work with a hiccup. Pressing the index finger under your nose and breathing slowly worked immediately. Amazing! And Thanks!

I’ve been using sugar for hiccups my whole life (32). I used to use sugar cubes when I was a kid (one would do), but yes now packets are the way to go for convenience and all. For those of you who have an issue with the calories or the sugar itself, a packet of Splenda works just as well (don’t know about the other artificial sweetners). I always have let the sugar dissolve on my tongue and then swallowed it, though. I’ll have to try swallowing it right away and see if that’s any better–the tongue method usually always does the trick, but sometimes I need a second packet.

I tried eating sweets and it works just as well.. wow! cant believe this works..

This is tried and true. Another good, instant fix that never, ever fails to get rid of hiccups is to bite into a lime or lemon wedge. Old bar secret and just as good, if not better, than the sugar one. You have to really bite into the wedge and get the juice, so it gives you that shudder from sourness, and then they are gone.

I was extremely skeptical when I first heard this from a co-worker. She told me to pour about half a packet of sugar under my tongue, close my mouth, and let it dissolve. It worked instantly, and it has continued to work every time I try it.

Sugar stops my hiccups but I have to hold it in my mouth until my mouth is filled with saliva. Then I swallow it and the hiccups are gone. I have also used vanilla and chocolate ice cream the same way.

Sugar works every time for me. I have been using it for Years. I use a couple of TBL spoons of sugar and let slowly melt down my throat. It always works. May have to repeat.

The sugar works! I’m not a regular hiccup sufferer. I came down with a stomach virus and am pretty sure that’s related to a bad case of the hiccups. They went on for 2 hours. I repeatedly tried holding my breath, drinking coke, eating hot soup, banging on my chest. Nothing worked. Then I finally tried the sugar and the hiccups stopped immediately! I put a spoonful on the back of my tongue. It’s not that easy to swallow. And maybe in fact that is what stops the hiccups? Anyway – it worked!!

You mentioned The New England Journal of Medicine, but there was also an article about this same cure in, I believe, Psychology Today, circa 1976, which I read while in college. I was especially intrigued, because this was an old remedy that my dad had taught me as a child. According to the magazine article, the mechanism of this cure seems to be the graininess of the sugar, the texture of which interrupts the nerve impulse which triggers hiccups.
As many of you have experienced, it was a never-fail method for banishing that annoying phenomenon. But I’ll go you one better: after I had enough experience with the sugar cure to have developed faith in it, my amazing dad taught me that I didn’t really need the sugar… all I needed was to mentally experience by recall the taste and feel of dry sugar crunching between my teeth and going down my throat. That method has worked for me ever since, though I still prefer a spoonful of sugar if I have easy access… the other way does come in handy at venues like an opera performance or your car at rush hour.
A word of caution concerning the peanut butter cure: though I’m sure it works well, probably interrupting the nerve impulse by coating the area, the AMA warns against eating/swallowing peanut butter by itself… if it goes down the wrong way (as it easily could with a mistimed hiccup), it’s extraordinarily difficult to clear the trachea of this treacly stuff….
especially with children.

A spoonful of granulated sugar sub-lingual (under the tongue) has worked for myself and everyone I have told about it 100% of the time. Let the sugar dissolve under the tongue. I just tried it again after having hiccups for 5 minutes with no relief. I usually do not wait that long but I wanted to see if they would go away on their own. They didn’t.
I’ll be asking my doctor next week if he knows the science behind this wonderful remedy.

I was told about this by my aunt’s mom. However she told me to put a spoon of sugar in my mouth, close it and suck hard (basically suck the air out of the sugar). It’s amazing and has worked for me almost every time. You can even spit the sugar out after, the sucking does it.

I use a tsp of sugar and a glass of water. It’s easier than just swallowing the sugar. I thought this was a secret, looks like it isn’t.

I’ve never seen anyone recommend this curious method, but it works amazingly, and can be done anywhere. Once while I was suffering from a bout of hiccups, our daughter’s father-in-law recommended I look at my thumbs. At his instruction I clasped my hands at my waist, thumbs touching, and quietly dropped my chin to my chest. My hiccups soon vanished! I suspect this may have to do with straightening the esophagus and diaphragm, relieving the spasms.

Almost any method for hiccups is good as long as it works for you. I use the sugar method, but I place a tsp of granulated white sugar on the back of my tongue. The process of swallowing seems to do the trick.

I used to be plagued by hiccups that would not go away & were at times almost painful. Until I found out about the sugar remedy. It never fails me! Splenda works almost as well if you don’t want the calories in sugar.

Many years ago I had hiccups while having dinner with a Chinese family. The host suggested that I press my index finger on the point, just below the nose above the upper lip. Press hard and breath slowly. It works almost all the time.

My husband had hiccups for 4 hours and we tried everything, tickeling, water, coke, and a scare. So I read about the sugar. Gave him a teaspoon of sugar under his tougue, because that’s what the article said to do and it stopped almost instantly.

As soon as you feel there is a hiccup coming, pretend to do a swallow (as if you are swallowing a pill) and you won’t get the hiccup.

When we had hiccups growing up, my mother gave us a teaspoon of sugar in a small glass of water that we drank down all at once. The hiccups have always gone away for 41 years and counting!

Sugar for hiccups is longtime remedy that my family used, usually worked well. Years ago, my husband had painful hiccups for hours — called hospital, but we’d already tried every remedy on their list. With some hesitation, the nurse suggested peanut butter! It worked instantly, and has every time, usually a teaspoon will do. Later had a baby who got hiccups, couldn’t use peanut butter for a baby, so tried tsp. of applesauce. Worked well for her many times until old enough for peanut butter.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: A SMALL SPOONFUL OF PEANUT BUTTER WILL WORK FOR HICCUPS, BUT BE CAREFUL: SOME PEOPLE HAVE CHOKED ON IT AND DIED.

I was told about this by a friend, and have offered this to many of my friends and customers. I work in a bar so I use it often.
Ruthi at the Paddy Waggon Irish Pub in Richmond, Kentucky

i tried a spoonful of sugar.. nothing :/
hiccups drive me CRAZY but i don’t know of any remedies that’ll work for me.. am i not supposed to swallow the sugar all at once? do i let it dissolve in my mouth?

I recently had hiccups which lasted for hours. Sugar, paper bag, sipping didn’t work. What stopped them immediately was a tablesppon of strawberry jelly.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY COMMENT: CURRANT JELLY UNDER THE TONGUE HAS BEEN SUGGESTED IN A MEDICAL PUBLICATION

I figured this out when I had the hiccups and I began to eat a smartie little hard candy. Cause they are pure sugar and my hiccups ceased. Now I eat a teaspoon of sugar and instantly, hiccups are gone. How weird a remedy but it is better than having hiccups!!!

Kind of like CJR says, I used to have someone hold my ears and I’d drink water to get rid of the hiccups. An easier way to achieve the same result is to hold your nose and drink water. It’s the drowning effect someone told me. It works for me!

I am 68 years old plus. When I was around 12, my repeated bouts of hiccups became downright embarrassing, especially just entering junior high school. Only my English teacher shouting at me stopped them. Then my father suggested placing a clean handkerchief over a drinking glass around 1/3 full of plain water; drinking this water THROUGH the cloth stopped them — then, and now!

The cure for hiccups that I use that always works without fail is to hold your breath while drinking water from a teaspoon. My dad says to drink 25 teaspoons of water, but I can never make it past 15. But I do this as long as I can, and the hiccups are gone every time.

Here’s a hiccup-ridding trick I learned at Penn State. Get a glass of water with a straw in it. Plug your nose and ears at the same time (pinkies at nose and thumbs at ears). Drink through the straw until you need to come up for a breath. The hiccups will be done. My five-year-old loves this trick.

In my family, we call the hiccups the family curse. No matter what I try, nothing works for me except fairly hot water. Drink down quickly until it “hangs up” the throat and makes the swallow difficult. Works immediately and every time for me. I think it’s a combination of the heat and that “hard” swallow that changes the rhythm at the diaphragm. But I’m going to try the sugar next time. The hot water may work for those not medically allowed sugar.

I’ve been using sugar for years to stop my hiccups. A friend had told me about it and I too was skeptical. My hiccups are usually rather violent in nature and can last for hours. This remedy has saved me at work.
I hadn’t heard about quickly swallowing it, I’ve always placed it under my tounge and let it slowly dissolve. As soon as the melted sugar starts to goes over my tounge and down my throat my hiccups immediately stop.

Our family has been using sugar to cure hiccups since the 1940’s or earlier. It works!

When my 3 children were infants and were having hiccups, I would use their baby size spoon, putting a small amount of sugar, with a couple of drops of water with it, and put it in their mouths. This remedy always stopped their hiccups instantly.
I also have used this method on many of my 8 grandchildren as well, and use a larger amount for myself, and suggest it for any age or size person.
I don’t know where the remedy originated, but I learned it from my mother.
Another successful method I learned from my mother, is one similar to the $10.00 bet mentioned here by another writer. When someone (child or adult) is hiccuping, I would look them sternly in their eyes, and say something such as: “so you have the hiccups…..OK, let my hear a hiccup RIGHT NOW…COME ON CONCENTRATE…HICCUP NOW, HICCUP RIGHT NOW!”, and so on. If you can persuade the person to concentrate, this almost always works. In fact, I even use a type of this “concentration” method, silently, on myself, also usually sucessful.
Now…don’t laugh too hard, but…I even use this method on my dogs, with it working most of the time!

I tried sugar for hiccups once, and some of the sugar went down “the wrong pipe,” and I almost choked. I get hiccups fairly often, and the only thing that gets rid of them immediately is peanut butter. Take a heaping teaspoon and swallow it all at once. It will stop a hiccup midway.

I have found that dipping baby’s pacifier in sugar and then allowing the baby to suck the sugar off the pacifier cures hiccups every time.

I have used sugar for hiccups for years, but I put some in a teaspoon and trickle a little water in it, so that it is just moist. One dose almost always does the trick.

I get the hiccups every time I eat certain types of hot peppers (e.g. jalapenos in Mexican food). A teaspoon of sugar does the trick. Better in restaurants than the old drinking-a-glass-of-water-with-an-upright -knife-in-it-up-against-your-forehead trick. And generally much more effective.

I personally used sugar to cure my hiccups for at least ten years ever since I heard the idea of swallowing a teaspoon of sugar. It has always worked for me. Allow the sugar to dissolve in your mouth and swallow it and do not wash it down with anything for at least ten minutes. You will be cured of your hiccups!!

I was told by my sister that a sugar packet would work. I tried it and it worked immediately, I could not believe it. The only difference from the other stories is that I did not try to swallow it dry, I let it dissolve in my mouth first and it still worked great.

My mom used to give me a tablespoon of sugar and tell me to wash it down with milk. It always worked.
As a kindergarten teacher, my students would have the hiccups and just could not function until they were cured.
Since they were too little to swallow the dry sugar, I mixed one tablespoon of sugar with a half cup of milk and told them to drink up. It never failed to work.

I tried this once after a bad bout of hiccups at my brother’s suggestion. It worked immediately. This was over a year ago. I just had a bout of hiccups and didn’t quite remember what to do, but I did dissolve and swallow a sugar packet on my tongue. It worked but just a tad slower. I was nervous because I had stomach cancer surgery a year and a half ago with some fancy repiping called a roux-n -y procedure. I am fine now thank the Lord.

The hiccup remedy that has always worked in our family for over 40 years is this: drink some water with a handkerchief or paper towel covering the top of the glass or cup so that you are drinking through the cloth or paper towel.

Peanut butter is my favorite cure, and it has never failed to work. Probably follows the same physics as the sugar, i.e. difficult to swallow.

I was having a bout of hiccups at a bar one night. The bartender offered me this remedy. She put about a teaspoon of sugar on a lemon wedge. I ate it. The hiccups were gone! Works every time.

Someone betted me $10 during a bout of hiccups that I couldn’t hiccup again. IT WORKS. I’ve said the same to three people since. The mixed feelings etched on their faces as normality immediately resumes is also fun to watch.

Has anyone tried this with a baby? My newborn gets hiccups after every feeding. I know this is common w/babies and doesn’t hurt her, but it does prevent her from falling back to sleep at night–which (consequently) also keeps us up. Will this work if I dissolve a little sugar in water in her bottle?

After laughing at my wife for advising this, I tried it, and wow, it actually worked (I had been hiccuping all day)… Now I’m trying to figure out why this works!

I just tried this, after following a google search, and it worked right away. Thanks :>

I have used sugar for hiccups for years. Friends laugh at me until they try it:)
It was a little hard at first to learn to swallow it before it melts, but that’s the only way it works.

You can try asking one of your family members to pat the back(on the spinal area from top to bottom and vice versa continuously for 2
minutes. When you feel like you have a hard time breathing that means whatever that sticks to the esophagus that cause the hiccup is going down(good sign). Do it until you can breath smoothly again.
Well it works for me, i don’t guarantee that will work for you.

I’m 77 and have been using sugar
for hiccups for at least thirty
years and it has always worked for me and anyone I advised to try it.

I have used sugar for hiccups for years and it almost always works, but it must be swallowed all at once.
My theory is that the effort required to swallow the dry sugar disrupts the spasms in the diaphram.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^