Hiccups often come unexpectedly and can rather be a nuisance. It’s no wonder we come up with countless creative ways to get rid of them, from breathing into a paper bag to asking someone to scare or surprise you. But with all the various hiccup remedies out there, it’s often hard to separate those that really work from old wives’ tales.
A hiccup, or a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. Every time the diaphragm contracts, the vocal cords suddenly snap back to check the inflow of air, producing the characteristic hiccup sound.
Normally, the diaphragm helps pull down air to the lungs each time you inhale, while it relaxes when you exhale, releasing air out of your lungs back through your nose and mouth. When the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest get irritated, the diaphragm pulls down spasmodically, making you suck air suddenly into your throat. When the rushing air hits your vocal chords, it suddenly closes and produces the “hic” sound.
Some things that irritate the diaphragm include eating too fast or too much, especially fatty foods and carbonated beverages, sudden changes in temperature in the stomach, such as when you drink hot or cold drinks, an irritation in the throat, or feeling excited or anxious.
Hiccups usually occur unexpectedly without probable cause. Fortunately, in most cases hiccups resolve itself in just a few minutes or hours. But if you find it bothersome and annoying, you can try the following to rid yourself of your hiccups.
Remedies that are thought to work are those that build up carbon dioxide in the blood and those that stimulate the vagus nerve or the nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach. Of these, you should try only those that you feel comfortable with.
1. Hold your breath. Take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Do this three or four times. Repeat the procedure after 20 minutes.
2. Breathe into a paper bag; don’t put the bag over your head.
3. Drink slowly a glass of warm water. Hold your breath while you drink it all the way down.
4. Place a gentle pressure on your nose as you swallow.
5. Put ½ teaspoon of sugar on the back of the tongue. Swallow it when it melts. Repeat this three to four times at 2-minute intervals.
6. Bring your knees to your chest and hug them for a few minutes.
7. Compress your chest by leaning forward.
8. Gently press your diaphragm.
9. Pull hard on your tongue .Hold the end of your tongue and give it a tug. This stimulates the vagus nerve, alleviating hiccups.
10. Burp. Some people find that burping by consuming fizzy drinks gets rid of their hiccups. This remedy, however, may trigger hiccups.