To get rid of hiccups quickly, you can try methods that stimulate the nerves and muscles in the thoracic region to return to their normal rhythm. Some tips to stop hiccups include:
- Drink a glass of cold water or suck on an ice cube to stimulate thoracic nerves
- Place a cold compress on your face to control breathing
- Hold your breath for as long as you can, or breathe into a paper bag, which will increase blood CO2 levels and stimulate the nervous system.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, to stretch the diaphragm and chest muscles
- Have a scare, as the release of adrenaline interferes with brain function and stimulates muscle nerves
- Act out a sneeze, as these movements help the diaphragm to return to normal function
- Drink some water with your trunk inclined forward or with your head hanging down, as this relaxes the diaphragm
- Plug your nose and try to breathe through it to contract your thorax and stimulate the Valsalva maneuver, which also helps to stimulate thorax nerves
- Eat a spoonful of sugar, honey, lemon, ginger or vinegar, as these are substances that stimulate taste buds and overload the mouth nerves and occupy the brain with other stimulants, which relaxes the diaphragm
Hiccups are a rapid and involuntary contraction of the diaphragm and it is possible to get rid of them by influencing the nerves and muscles around the thorax to return to their normal rhythm.
Hiccups can last for seconds to minutes, and there are ways you can get rid of them quickly. These techniques are properly known but do not have any scientific evidence to support them. Results will vary from person to person.
If the hiccups are persistent and last for over a day, you should see your doctor to assess the cause of your hiccups and start treatment as indicated. He or she may prescribe medication like gabapentin, metoclopramide or baclofen.
To prevent future hiccups, you should identify why they happen. It may be related to dilation of the stomach from eating too much or too fast, from drinking alcohol, or even brain illnesses, like meningitis. Learn more about what causes hiccups and how they can be treated.
In newborns, or even while in-utero, hiccups can occur because the diaphragm and respiratory muscles are still developing. This is also a common reflex when starting to breastfeed. You should continue to feed the baby and be sure to burp once full.
How to prevent hiccups
There is no specific way to prevent hiccups forever, however you can take some measures into consideration to reduce the chance of them happening. These can include lifestyle changes, like drinking less alcohol, eating slower, eating smaller portions, and avoiding spicy foods.
In addition, some studies show that meditation, relaxation techniques, reducing stress and acupuncture can help to control hiccups.
When to go to the doctor
If your hiccups last for over a day, you should see your doctor, as this persistent or chronic condition may be related to an infection, inflammation, gastrointestinal disease or medication. In these cases, the doctor may order testing to investigate for conditions that may cause nonstop hiccups.
The doctor may also prescribe medication to treat intense hiccups, like chlorpromazine, haloperidol, metoclopramide, and in serious cases, phenytoin, gabapentin or baclofen.