The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Your Hiccups Go Away If You Reach and Sip?

Do you have a remedy to make hiccups go away? Drinking water plays a role in many remedies, but others call for a sharp flavor to do the trick.

Have you ever tried to make hiccups go away with a home remedy? There are dozens, at least! Some sound entirely plausible, while others appear quite improbable. They all have one thing in common: a fervent champion convinced that this is the one and only hiccup remedy that really works.

How Can You Make Hiccups Go Away?

Q. I’ve suffered with hiccups all my life. (I’m in my late 50s.)

The only remedy that really works is one I learned from a friend about six years ago. Raise your left arm straight over your head while drinking a glass of water.

Can you tell me why this works? I’m guessing it has to do with the stretching motion expanding or opening up the diaphragm.

What Are Hiccups?

A. Hiccups are heard when the diaphragm repeatedly contracts involuntarily and the vocal cords close immediately after each contraction. There are many triggers, including a large meal, hot peppers, alcohol, carbonated beverages and anesthesia. A number of serious health conditions can also set off hard-to-treat hiccups. That’s why persistent hiccups (beyond two days) should be brought to a doctor’s attention.

Reach and Sip to Make Hiccups Go Away:

We have been collecting hiccup remedies for over 40 years. We suspect that many work by stimulating nerves in the mouth and throat. This in turn might interrupt the muscular contraction. Reaching up with the left arm while drinking water may help stimulate the vagus nerve much as swallowing a spoonful of sugar would. This is a time-honored remedy for hiccups (New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 23, 1971).

One reader recently shared his go-to remedy:

“My method of stopping hiccups has never failed. Never. Put the handle of a spoon in a glass (made of glass) of water. While pressing the bottom (bowl) part of the spoon firmly against your forehead, slip the water with the handle in it very slowly. Guaranteed! (It might work in other than a glass glass, but I have not tried that.)”

What About Pickles or Olives to Make Hiccups Go Away?

Other remedies, such as sipping pickle juice or eating olives, might work by activating transient receptor potential (TRP) channels in this same pathway. The bartender’s standby, eating a lemon wedge with Angostura bitters on it, may also be working through a similar mechanism. Activating TRP channels can override and calm a misfiring nerve that is causing a muscle cramp. This approach may also be able to reverse the misfiring of the vagus nerve causing the diaphragm to contract when it should not.

Learn More:

You can learn about many other hiccup remedies in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. If you are interested in TRP channels and how they can help alleviate muscle cramps, you may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Bruce Bean, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. It is Show 1054: The Scientific Explanation for a Weird Remedy.

If you have a remedy that makes hiccups go away, please share it in the comment section below.

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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 had issues with hiccups since I was a little girl ( I’m 68 ). I take anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy) depending how strong and persistent the hiccups are and wait until one hiccup finishes and quickly, before another comes up, I swallow the whole spoon of peanut butter.

I don’t let it melt in my mouth, just get it down quickly, then wait a few seconds. It never fails me. It’s gone and the peanut butter tastes good. Sometimes if I use a teaspoon it might come back, meaning I needed more peanut butter. Then I use the tablespoon and it ALWAYS works.

My father was a physician, and this was his remedy which always worked:

Press a finger firmly into each ear; take a deep breath; hold it as long as you can even if you experience a hiccup while you are doing it. You may have to do it several times, and be careful if you have long nails.

I recall him explaining that it had something to do with spasms in the diaphragm and forcing the CO2 out. I’m not sure I remember his explanation since I was about 14 yrs old when he taught me this remedy. It always works, but you may need to do it several times.

My home remedy for hiccups is simple: a few chocolate chips, dark chocolate, of course. My husband discovered this and it has always worked for us.

Bunny

I was taught the same method by our health teacher in 6th grade (60 yrs ago). Additionally, he said keeping fingers in ears until letting out breath. Always works and may take more than 1 time. Thanks for science behind it.

A hiccup is an upward spasm of the diaphragm. Taking a spoonful of granulated suger, and swallowing it while constantly making downward forceful swallows stops the hiccup. The repeated swallowing pushes downward against the diaphragm, stopping the spasm.

All you need to stop hiccups is a big spoonful of dill pickle juice. I’ve used it for years myself and with my children, and it works every time.

I find that I don’t have to actually take a teaspoon of sugar to make my hiccups go away. I can simply imagine reaching for the sugar, pouring some into a spoon, and then (and this is the most important part) imagine putting it into my mouth and feeling the granulated feel of the sugar in my mouth and tasting the sweetness. Doing this with focus and concentration works for me!

When I get the hiccups, I try to burp over and over. It works for me almost always.

I have had good luck stopping hiccups with taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Once had to take two teaspoons!

A spoonful of sugar stops the hiccups for me. I understand that a spoonful of anything gritty will work, but swallowing a spoonful of salt or sand would not be good. It’s the grittiness going down your throat that works.

I put pressure on my sternum with palm of 1 hand & other on top for force while swallowing quickly 4 or more times. Has worked for me every time for past 5 years.

A heaping spoonful of peanut butter works very time !

My favorite hiccup cure is to eat several spoons of ice cream. Since I am a retired RN, I had to think of a rationale, and I’m guessing it stimulates the Vagus Nerve.

I read this article Sunday morning…in the evening. I had hiccups during dinner. I thought, “Why not give this method a try?” and within 30 seconds, they were gone. NEVER had this kind of speedy relief with any of the other methods I have tried. I will note that you need to raise the arm straight up alongside the head and extended just a bit. I will be telling all my friends about this!

Take a sip of water, and bend forward at the waist. Swallow the water while you are “upside down,” and that will cure the hiccups.

Bonnie’s suggestion of drinking “upside down” is my family’s solution for all my life & I am 79. It has always worked for all generations.

I’ve used this successfully for most of my life. Also read another remedy that calls for holding your breath, then swallowing your saliva twice before exhaling; takes a little while to get two swallows in, but it does work. It’s helpful if you can’t get to a glass of water.

I get rid of my hiccups by holding my breath while taking 10 tiny sips of water. Works every time for me

I have always ended my grandchildren’s hiccoughs by placing my palms firmly over their ears and pressing gently while I have them drink a beverage like water or juice. Nothing with carbonation. Hiccoughs always stop.

I always stop hiccups by plugging my ears with my fingers while swallowing a mouthful of liquid.

I have had good results in stopping my hiccups by relaxing, getting a good breath (as though you are going to be underwater), then holding your breath for as long as you possibly can. You may have to hold your nose to keep from taking in air unknowingly.

Several years ago I tried taking a teaspoon of regular sugar. It works INSTANTANEOUSLY!!! Also use that same remedy for heartburn. Same result! Inexpensive too!

I have found the best way to get rid of hiccups is with laughter. Find something funny to watch or talk about (laugh about the hiccups you are having and the weird noise they make!). Have a really good laugh,and they seem to go away. Sounds strange, but I think the key is: hiccups are triggered by edgy,stressed nerves, and the laughter is relaxing, and a general anxiety-buster. A merry heart does good like a medicine!

I found out quite by accident what worked for a young friend and it always works for me. Many of the cures listed have to do with flow of air (diaphragm), and the laughter cure reminded me of the time she starting hiccupping right before a Bible fellowship.

She made it through the first part and after the singing, I noticed no more hiccups. So I sing when I can. When I can’t, I sing to myself and breathe like I’m singing out loud. I’m just thankful that so many people have figured out what works for them. I’m sure they’ve helped many.

One solutions that has worked for hiccups for me and my children is a spoonful of sugar with a little water (to make it more palatable). Sometimes it takes a Tablespoon.
Not sure why it works but for the most part it does work.

I take a breath and focus my eyes downward to the spot I feel the hiccup beginning. Then I simply focus on that spot. Hiccups gone within a few breaths.

My go-to remedy for hiccups is to hold my breath for as long as I can stand it–then breathe slowly and shallowly for a few seconds until I am certain that the hiccups are gone. Occasionally I need to repeat a second time, but this method has never failed me. And it can be done anytime, anywhere. No need for a glass of water or spoon or pickle juice or . . .

Eating half a banana will stop hiccups. Works every time for me and is easy.

For hiccups I just squeeze the skin area under my nose, and they stop immediately.

You can laugh all you want at my cure for the hiccups:
A small shot of strong alcohol, 90-100 proof.
Something that ‘kinda’ burns a little bit on the way down.
Stops the hiccuping for me in just a second in time.

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