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How to stop hiccups and what to do in persistent hiccups

Updated in May 2019

A hiccup is a result of a quick and involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. To stop hiccups quickly it is possible to follow some tips, which stimulate the nerves and muscles of the thorax, such as drinking cold water, holding your breath for a few seconds, or even taking a scare.

For the hiccup to be stopped effectively and definitively, it is important to eliminate its cause. There are several causes for the appearance of hiccups such as swelling of the stomach by eating too much or too fast, ingesting alcoholic beverages or having reflux, for example.

How to stop hiccups and what to do in persistent hiccups

So, here are some tips to stop hiccups fast, or, even, immediately:

  1. Drink a glass of ice water, or suck on ice, as it stimulates the thorax nerves and muscles;
  2. Hold your breath as much as you can or breathe inside a paper bag as it increases the levels of CO2 in the blood, and stimulates the nervous system;
  3. Breathe deeply and slowly, to stretch the diaphragm and muscles responsible for breathing;
  4. Take a fright or laugh a lot, because it releases adrenaline that interferes with brain functioning and stimulates the muscular nerves;
  5. Drink a little water with your trunk tilted forward or upside down, as this relaxes the diaphragm;
  6. Cover the nose and force yourself to release the air, contracting the thorax, called the maneuver of Valsalva, which is another way to stimulate the thorax nerves;
  7. Eat a spoon of sugar, honey, lemon, ginger or vinegar, as they are substances that stimulate the taste buds, overload the nerves of the mouth and occupy the brain with other stimuli, relaxing the diaphragm.

In newborn baby's, or even inside the mother's womb, hiccups can be caused because the diaphragm and respiratory muscles are still developing, and reflux after initiating breastfeeding is very common. In such cases, it is recommended to breastfeed the child or, if he is already full, put him in the standing position for belching. See more about these and other tips to help the stop hiccups in baby's.

How to stop persistent hiccups

A persistent or chronic hiccup is one that lasts more than 2 days, and in these cases it is recommended to consult a general practitioner to investigate possible causes, which may be infections, inflammations or gastrointestinal diseases, for example, and treat them correctly.

If necessary, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat the hiccup more intensely, such as Chlorpromazine, Haloperidol, Metoclopramide and, in more severe cases, Phenytoin, Gabapentin or Baclofen, for example.

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