Home Remedies for Hiccups


Hiccups are little more than a reflex, like the way your knee jerks when a doctor taps it with a hammer. They result when the vagus nerve or one of its branches, which runs from the brain to the abdomen, is irritated. And the vagus lets you know by tweaking the phrenic nerve, which leads to the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that helps you breathe. The diaphragm then spasms, causing the "hic" sound true to the condition's name.

Experts say hiccups are most often a reaction to common digestive disturbances. And luckily, they're usually more a nuisance than anything else. But what about the times when we seem to hiccup for no apparent reason? No one knows for sure why these seemingly innocuous bouts occur. What experts do know is that even infants hiccup, and the reflex continues, about three to five times a year, throughout life.

The home remedies used to stop a hiccupping bout are believed to work on two principles. Some basically rely on overstimulating the vagus nerve. Like all nerves, it processes a variety of sensations, ranging from temperature to taste. One way to stifle hiccups is to overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation; in turn, the vagus nerve signals the brain that more important matters have arisen, so it's time to knock off the hiccupping.

Other methods, which interfere with breathing, increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood, probably causing the body to become more concerned with getting rid of the carbon dioxide than making hiccups. In the next section, we will review some tried-and-true home remedies from both camps.

For more information about home remedy treatments to combat an assortment of ailments, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Home Remedy Treatments for Hiccups

Play "hear no evil." Some doctors recommend that you put your fingers in your ears -- and not because they don't want you to hear yourself hiccup. It seems that branches of the vagus nerve also reach into the auditory system, and by stimulating the nerve endings there, the vagus nerve goes into action. (You could also try sticking a finger in the back of your mouth, which has a similar effect as creating pressure in your ears -- but gagging is even less fun than the hiccups.)

Of course, other doctors insist that you should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear in order to avoid irritating or damaging the ear canal. So if you do decide to try this hiccup reliever, be gentle, and don't stick your fingers too far into your ears.

Get scared silly. Have you ever, out of frustration, yelled at a crying child -- who, as if on cue, suddenly stopped? Scaring your vagus nerve may shut it up, too. Having someone surprise you can overwhelm the vagus nerve, though this method is probably best reserved for the stout hearted who enjoy a good scare.

Pull on your tongue. Sticking out your tongue and yanking on it may stop hiccups.

Tickle it away. Tickling the soft palate of the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab may do the trick. Or, if you're the type who enjoys getting tickled, it may be more fun to have someone find your ticklish spots.

Hold your breath. Hold your nose and close your mouth -- the way you would when you're ready to jump in a pool -- for as long as you can or until you sense that the hiccups are gone.

Bag those hiccups. The old standby, breathing into a paper bag, is believed to work on the same principle as the breath-holding method. Both increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, and the body becomes preoccupied with getting rid of it.

Take an antacid. This method may be more effective if you choose one that contains magnesium, since the mineral tends to decrease irritation and quiet the nerves. One or two tablets should do the job.

Eat slower. Scarfing down your dinner in a hurry causes two problems. First, if you're eating fast you are probably not chewing food thoroughly, which seems to cause hiccups. Furthermore, rapid-fire feeding causes air to get trapped between pieces of food, which may also set off the vagus nerve. Chew deliberately, and while you're at it, take smaller sips of drinks, to keep your air intake to a minimum.

Don't pig out. Overloading the stomach with food is another cause of hiccups. Some experts theorize that hiccups are your body's way of telling you to quit eating so your digestive system has time to process all the food you've forced down your gullet.

Avoid spicy foods. Some spices can irritate the lining of the esophagus (the food pipe) and stomach. At the same time, they can cause acid from the stomach to leak into the esophagus. The extra acid can bring on a bout of hiccups.

Drink only in moderation. Like spices, alcoholic beverages can cause a simultaneous irritation of the esophagus and the stomach. And over time, excessive drinking can damage the lining of the food pipe. The result: an embarrassing "hic" after "hic," reminiscent of the down-and-out bum with a brown-bagged bottle and a red nose. But long-time alcoholism isn't the only cause. Parties, like the kind some college students attend, where people are sometimes dared to consume a lot of alcohol as quickly as possible, can lead to what is called acute ingestion. The digestive system not only becomes irritated by the alcohol, but the esophagus expands rapidly because of the big gulps, resulting in hiccups.

In the next section, we'll take a look at some home remedies from the kitchen that should halt those hiccups.

For more information about home remedy treatments to combat an assortment of ailments, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Natural Home Remedies for Hiccups

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Using honey or sugar to overwhelm the mouth with a sweet flavor might put a stop to your hiccups.

Hiccups are one problem that literally everyone and their grandmother has a cure for. But the truth is, there's not much scientific basis to most home remedies, and what works once may not work again. But when you've got the hiccups, you will try almost anything to get rid of them. So any or all of these kitchen cures may be worth a shot.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Honey. Try swallowing a tablespoon of honey. This overwhelms the mouth with a sweet flavor and may short-circuit the irritated nerve.

Sugar. Experts give a thumbs-up to this remedy. Simply place a spoonful of sugar in your mouth, toward the back of the tongue where sour tastes are tasted. This will enhance the sweet overload you're delivering.

Home Remedies from the Drawer

Paper bag. Breathing into a paper bag will increase the amount of carbon dioxide in your body. Since your body takes that as a signal of suffocation, your respiratory system urges the body to take deeper breaths. Those deeper breaths may stop the diaphragm spasm. This method is a favorite in hospitals.

Home Remedies from the Freezer

Ice. Drink a glass of ice water -- a cold drink is believed to shock the system. Or simply apply a piece of ice to the back of the neck. This may shock your body and cause you to take a deep breath.

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Lemon. Lemons are believed to overwhelm irritated nerves with a sour taste. This may divert the nerves' attention and get rid of your hiccups.

Pineapple juice. Some think the acidic content of the juice helps stop the hiccups.

Water. Bartenders swear by this hiccup-relieving trick -- quickly downing a glass of water with a spoon in it. The swallowing is probably the reason the hiccups go away, but the spoon seems to take the person's mind off their hiccups. And some people believe gargling with water relieves the hiccups.

Home Remedies from the Spice Rack

Dill seed. Swallowing a teaspoon of dill seeds is an old folk remedy that may work for you. No one is sure if it's an ingredient in the dill seeds that helps or if simply swallowing the seeds is what does the trick.

The good news is that hiccups are usually just a passing irritation. The next time your vagus nerve flares up, keep these home remedies in mind.

For more information about home remedy treatments to combat an assortment of ailments, visit the following links:

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.