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:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- Quench the flames of acid reflux with the kitchen cures covered in Home Remedies for Heartburn.
- Read Home Remedies for Burping to put a stop to unpleasant (and socially unacceptable) belching.
- If you're suffering from tummy troubles, Home Remedies for Upset Stomach can offer some cures.
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.