We all have experienced hiccup, all of us in a 3 mile radius will pummel you their own way of getting rid of them. Whether it’s holding your breath or having the crap scared out of you, there are so many different remedies to choose from, the question is which are supported by scientific evidence?
We want to provide you with a little background on this affliction, hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions or spasms of the diaphragm muscle. When this muscle goes into spasms, the vocal cords snap shut, producing the hiccup sound. These are often rhythmic and usually just a temporary minor annoyance, but prolonged hiccups could signal a major medical problem. FYI, the longest recorded hiccup attack lasted 68 YEARS!
Tending to get hiccups equally as often, but hiccups that last more than 48 hours are more common in men. Hiccups can even occur in a fetus while still in utero, and I know this is true because my son had them almost everyday while I was carrying him, starting around the 6 month mark.
You can find 100 different medical conditions can cause hiccups, but most of the time none of these apply. Laughing, drinking a lot of alcohol, eating too fast or chugging something fizzy can all trigger an attack, but they can also start spontaneously for no reason at all.
What Causes Hiccups?
Common causes include:
- Eating too quickly and swallowing air with food
- Eating too much fatty or spicy foods
- Noxious fumes can trigger hiccups
- Sudden changes in temperature
- Fear or Excitement
- Drinking too much carbonated beverages or alcohol can distend the stomach and irritate the diaphragm
- Any disease or health issue that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm like liver disease, pneumonia, or other lung disorders.
- Abdominal surgery can also irritate the nerves that control the diaphragm, causing hiccups.
- Strokes or brain tumors involving the brain stem, and some chronic medical disorders (such as renal failure) have also been reported to cause hiccups.
Hiccups can also be prompted by medication like some anaesthetics, steroids, drugs for Parkinson’s Disease and chemotherapy for cancer can all lead to hiccups. Some medications may also have hiccups as a side effect, like:
- Medications for Acid Reflux
- Most benzodiazepines, including Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax), and Lorazepam (Ativan)
- Levodopa, nicotine, and ondansetron (Zofran)
Home Remedies for Hiccups
There are numerous home cures for hiccups, but most home remedies that work are based on one of two mechanisms. In the first group are the methods that raise the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood, thus inhibiting spasms of the diaphragm. These techniques include:
- Holding your breath
- Breathing into a paper bag
These cures really do work most of the time, but researchers are not sure why. Some believe that hiccups may be caused by low levels of CO2, and therefore high levels would inhibit the hiccups. These cures are also a way of distracting the body so that it focuses on something else.
Other hiccup remedies stimulate the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the stomach, and coordinates breathing and swallowing. This nerve is part of the hiccuping process, but you can disrupt the chain of events by stimulating the nerve, and sending signals to the brain that tell it to focus on this new sensation instead.
- Drinking Water
- Frightening or Startling
- Biting a Lemon
- Eating Crushed Ice
- Pulling the Tip of Your Tongue
- Putting Your Fingers in Your Ears
- Gently Pressing on Your Eyeballs
Stretching & Stimulating the Diaphragm
There are numerous ways you can stretch, stimulate and exercise your diaphragm to help avoid or end a bout of these spasms. The first exercise you can do involves breathing in until you feel like you are unable to breathe in any more air.
- Breath in, completely filling your lungs full of air, then hold your breath for around 30 sec., or as long as you can.
- When you exhale, do so very slowly, so that your diaphragm relaxes.
- Don’t stop until your lungs are completely empty.
- Do this over and over 6, 8 or 10 times.
If you are still hiccuping after this exercise, there is another trick you can try which involves simulating the breathing motion.
- Hold your breath, and while doing so, make sure your hold your nose and close your mouth.
- Begin moving your chest and diaphragm as if you were actually breathing.
- Do this as quickly as you can, as this encourages your diaphragm to move rapidly and distract it from hiccuping.
Drink Dissolved Cardamom Powder
A beverage made of cardamom powder probably doesn’t sound appealing, but it could be just the thing you need to stop your hiccups. By mixing a teaspoon of cardamom powder with a cup and a half of hot water, you can create a drink that encourages your diaphragm muscles to relax. It won’t be the most pleasant tasting drink, but it may do the trick if you’ve been suffering with hiccups for an irritatingly long period of time.
Eating Peanut Butter
If you’re a fan of peanut butter, you’ll love this quick and easy method of getting rid of your hiccups. By just taking a big spoonful of peanut butter and eating it. Peanut butter is notorious for its sticky and thick texture that makes it difficult to eat. As you use your tongue to take the peanut butter off the roof of your mouth, your breathing pattern is affected. This means that the hiccups and diaphragm spasms are interrupted and the hiccups are quickly removed, it’s definitely worth a try!
One extreme remedy you may NOT want to try was adopted by Francis Fesmire from the University Of Tennessee College of Medicine. He published a paper in 1988 detailing the technique called “Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage”. The paper discusses a man going to the emergency room complaining that he’d been hiccuping every two seconds the three days.
After trying methods like gagging and compressing his eyeballs, the doctor recalled a case where a 71-year-old woman’s racing heartbeat had been slowed down by a doctor inserting a finger into her anus. So he tried the same technique for the hiccup patient and it worked. He collected the IgNobel prize for his discovery, but also realized that an orgasm would have the same effect and would probably be preferred more by patients.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet. PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.