How To Get Rid Of Hiccups

Wondering how to get rid of hiccups? From holding your breath to eating ice, there are a couple of things you can try — but none of these are guaranteed to work. As it turns out, scientists don't really know what causes hiccups. These strange sounds may be due to stress, overeating, or drinking very cold or very hot drinks (via Cleveland Clinic). Some medications, especially those prescribed for anxiety, may be to blame, too.

Hiccups, or singultus, are usually harmless and can last anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours. Charles Osborne, an American born in 1894, had this condition for 68 years, which landed him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest hiccups. He's an exception, though. It's really only possible now to have repeated bouts of hiccups for days or even months. Potential causes include kidney, liver, digestive disorders, infections, irritated nerves, or damage to the central nervous system, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm muscle contracts involuntary, causing the vocal cords to close. It can affect anyone, including babies, and usually goes away on its own. If it persists, your doctor may prescribe antipsychotic, antispasmodic, or anti-seizure drugs. Luckily, medical treatment is rarely necessary. 

There are few home remedies that might help you get rid of hiccups and feel like yourself again. Let's take a look.

Try these home remedies for hiccups

Anecdotal evidence says that holding your breath for a few seconds and then swallowing air can stop hiccups. You can also count backward from 100 or drink water while sitting in an awkward position. These strategies are meant to take your attention away from the hiccups (via Winchester Hospital). Other remedies, such as slowly eating a spoonful of sugar or using a Q-tip to tickle the roof of your mouth, work by stimulating the vagus nerve.

These home treatments lack scientific evidence, but they may help to some extent. For instance, drinking cold water may soothe an irritated diaphragm, says Dr. Janette Nesheiwat (via Insider). Sucking on ice cubes has a similar effect. Holding your breath, on the other hand, may help relax the diaphragm by increasing carbon dioxide levels in the lungs. Another simple way to get rid of hiccups is to pinch your nose and close your mouth while exhaling for 10 to 15 seconds, suggests Insider.

The best thing you can do is to identify and eliminate the triggers. Winchester Hospital recommends slowing down when you eat and watching your portions. Chew each bite of food and stop when you feel full. Limit alcohol, spicy foods, and hot beverages, as they can irritate the stomach lining and cause hiccups. Emotional stress can also contribute to this problem. Try acupuncture since it can help with both stress and hiccups (per the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine)

Be sure to consult your doctor if the hiccups persist.