Causes (common hiccups)
Causes (intractable hiccups)
Home remedies
Readers' tips
Books & articles
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  • Also known as singultus and diaphragmatic spasm.

  • Hiccups occur when a stimulus triggers the nerves which lowers the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen), i.e. makes the diaphragm contract involuntary causing the person to take in a quick breath of air into the lungs. The nerves involved here are linked to the diaphragm.

    The air then causes a brief closure of the glottis (located in the voice box, an opening between the vocal cords). The closure produces the "hic" sound for which hiccups are named.

  • Most hiccups are harmless and they usually stop after a few minutes. Chronic hiccups are very rare. Those that last for months or years are usually called intractable hiccups.

  • The longest hiccup ever known was experienced by an American pig farmer whose hiccups persisted from 1922 to 1987.

  • Did you know that a fetus can have hiccups? They actually help strengthen the diaphragm and prepare the fetus for breathing.

  • Most of the methods used to stop hiccups actually seek to alter the flow of air through the vocal cords so as to stop hiccuping.

Causes (common hiccups)

  • Unknown causes
  • Hot and spicy food
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Nervousness
  • Sudden laughter
  • Intense emotions
  • Fumes
  • Cold air or cold water

Causes (intractable hiccups)

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Pneumonia
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Asthma
  • Stroke
  • Liver/kidney problems
  • Brain tumor affecting the brain's breathing center
  • Indigestion
  • Side effects from certain medication (e.g. muscle relaxants)

Home remedies
[Remedies to stop rhythmic hiccups, see which are the ones that work for you]

  • Bend over the waist and drink a glass of water in that bending position.

  • Munch ginger.

  • Eat crushed ice.

  • Drink water quickly.

  • Suck on slices of fresh lemon.

  • Swallow a teaspoon of vinegar.

  • Gargle with cider vinegar.

  • Hold breath for as long as possible.

  • Ask someone to give you a fright.

  • Bring a paper bag close to the mouth then blow into it and breathe in the air from the bag.

  • Cover each ear with your fingers and press gently for a few minutes.

  • Squeeze lemon juice to the back of the throat.

  • Hold on to a small glass (4-ounce) of water and place your mouth to the opposite side of the glass that one would normally drink from. Bend slightly while taking a sip.

  • Drink canned pineapple juice immediately after the can has been opened.

Readers' tips

  • I've found that taking a deep breath and holding it, then drinking a glass of water while holding your breath, cures the hiccups every time. ...Darren via email, Aug 2004

  • A while back I had really bad hiccups at a friend's house. She told me to swallow peanut butter. After I did that the hiccups were instantly gone! I only had to take 2 spoonful. I've used it ever since and its always gotten rid of them. ...Rapcat16 via email, Aug 2004

  • What I have found to work for me and my friends, is to first exhale most of the air in the lungs. THEN do you hold your breath. Some people might need to pinch their noses to prevent air from entering. Hold for about 10-15 seconds. Then hiccups should not continue. This technique has worked for me for quite a long time and it has worked for all whom I know too. ...George via email, Feb 2004

  • I found that if I have hiccups, I would get a glass of water and start drinking 7 gulps of water continuously and that will stop the hiccups.
    ...Mae via email, Jan 2004

  • Pull hair hard from the top of the head for a minute. ...SCplace2Be@aol.com

  • Fill a tea cup with cold water until 2/3 full and place an inverted teaspoon inside and drink normally. You'll be concentrating so hard on the spoon not falling off the cup that it cures your hiccups. ...SweetSexySury424@aol.com

  • Swallow a teaspoon of sugar and then drink water. ...talyka@earthlink.net

  • Hold your nose, plug your ears and drink water thru a straw for 20 seconds. ...LilMissPiggy1012@aol.com

  • Eat a tablespoon of peanut butter. ...wdrowe@ptialaska.net

  • Hold your breath for 30 seconds, take some water, bend over as if you're touching your toes and swallow it. ...em0m&y@netscape.net

  • At the peak of the hiccup (at the hic, before the cup) contract your stomach muscles like you would to burp. Sometimes it takes a burp or two. ...jmoore@apexvoice.com

  • I have used this method for 45 years. It ALWAYS works. A hiccup is the result of a spasm of the diaphram so the cure is to immobilize the diaphram. This is done by taking a deep breath and holding it (this puts pressure on the top of the diaphram) and at the same time squeezing the stomach muscles as hard as possible (this puts pressure on the bottom of the diaphram). Hold as long as possible. Repeat if necessary. It is most unusual for this to require more than 2-3 repeats. ...bstan@alltel.net

  • While in high school 25+ years ago, a fellow student started the hiccups in Psycholgy class. They were very loud and disruptive. The teacher called her to the front, whispered something in her ear and she returned to her desk. No more hiccups. So naturally we all wanted to know what was whispered in her ear to cease her hiccups so quickly. The teacher had told her to return to her desk and think about the ugliest person she had ever seen! That was it! I have used this for over 25 years even with medical personnel and it has not failed yet. ...SchiaboLarovoAR@aol.com

Continue with :
Books & articles
Hic' countdown shoppe

hiccup, hiccups, stop hiccup

The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Second Edition: The World's Most Widely Used Medical Reference - Now In Everyday Language - Simon & Schuster, 2003.

The Know-It-All's Guide to Life: How to Climb Mount Everest, Cure Hiccups, Live to 100, and Dozens of Other Practical, Unusual, or Just Plain Fantastical Things - John Walbaum. Career Pr, 2003.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two - William & Martha Sears. Little Brown & Company, 2003.

Food Combining and Digestion: Easy to Follow Techniques to Increase Stomach Power and Maximize Digestion - Steve Meyerowitz. Sprout House, 2002.

Healthy Digestion the Natural Way: Preventing and Healing Heartburn, Constipation, Gas, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel and Gallbladder Diseases, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and More - D. Lindsey Berkson. Wiley, 2000.

Hic' countdown shoppe

Organic ginger tea (caffeine-free)

Ginger-peppermint tea (caffeine-free)

Organic ginger liquid for kids

Pineapple cans

Cider vinegar

Fresh ginger


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