If you’ve ever had the hiccups, then you know all too well how frustrating and annoying they can be. For some people, hiccups go away quite quickly on their own. However, others are left to deal with these obnoxious hiccups unless they try some type of remedy. For minor cases of the hiccups, there are several easy, at-home remedies that are often successful in getting rid of hiccups. However, for serious cases that persist for days, weeks or even months, there are more complex treatments available as well.
1. Cold Water
This is one of the most commonly shared home remedies for hiccups. To use this remedy, drink a glass of cold water very quickly. Some people find that drinking as much of the cold water as they can without taking a breath is the most useful tactic with this remedy. Rest for a few moments after gulping the water to see if the hiccups have subsided.
Another popular remedy for minor cases of the hiccups, people using this treatment simply need to measure out a teaspoon-sized portion of regular granulated sugar and eat it in one bite. if the hiccups persist, try eating one more spoonful of sugar before moving onto another remedy.
(To learn more about sugar, read Brown Sugar Versus White Sugar: Which Is Healthier?)
3. Paper Bag
Since hiccups involve spasm of the diaphragm, using this remedy can help to try to control those breathing movements until the hiccups go away. To use this treatment, take a small paper bag and breathe into it at a steady, regular pace. Focus on controlling your breathing and your diaphragm throughout the process for better results.
4. Holding Your Breath
Like breathing into a paper bag holding your breath can be another way to try to control your diaphragm and make the hiccups stop. Hold your breath and concentrate on not allowing the hiccups to occur, if possible. Don’t hold your breath so long that you begin to get dizzy or lightheaded.
According to MayoClinic.com, there are several drugs which may be prescribed in order to treat hiccups that persist over a long period of time. These include metoclopramide (an anti-nausea drug), baclofen (a muscle relaxant) and chlorpromazine (an antipsychotic). These medications are usually only prescribed if the hiccups have been continuing for a minimum of at least 48 hours without significant breaks.
6. Carotid Sinus Massage
Gently massaging the carotid sinus, which is located in the neck, can sometimes cure persistent hiccups. However, make sure that you have a professional health care provider do this type of massage for you rather than attempting to do it yourself or having a friend or family member do it for you.
7. Phrenic Nerve Procedure
The phrenic nerve affects the diaphragm and its movement, so it could potentially be the source of hiccups. If this is the case (and if the hiccups have been persistently going on for at least a few days), doctors may recommend an injection of anesthetic into the phrenic nerve in order to stop the hiccups.
8. Gastric Lavage
More commonly known as stomach pumping, gastric lavage is the process of emptying the stomach of its contents. To do this, doctors place a tube through the nose or mouth that reaches down through the esophagus to the stomach. Then, suction is applied to remove the contents of the stomach through the tube. In some cases, this has proven to be successful in stopping hiccups. However, it does come with some risks, including aspiration or perforation of the esophagus. Due to the invasive nature of the procedure and the associated risks, this is only performed for very persistent and long-term cases of the hiccups.
9. Surgical Implant
One of the newest treatment options for long-term, persistent hiccups is the implantation of a device which stimulates the vagus nerve. Like the phrenic nerve, the vagus nerve is also closely linked to the diaphragm. After the battery-operated device has been implanted, it delivers a regular, rhythmic electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, which often stops the hiccups from continuing. The electrical pulses are mild enough that they are not obtrusive or problematic for most individuals. Though this same procedure was previously used to treat epilepsy, there are a growing number of cases where it has been successful in treating long-term hiccups. It’s also important to note that this is a rather expensive operation (around $20,000 according to the New York Times), so it is typically used only for very serious and very long-term cases of hiccups.
Regardless of what remedy you use, keep in mind that there is no sure-fire cure for hiccups. This condition can be caused by a variety of triggers, so there isn’t one remedy that works for every case of hiccups. However, the treatments listed here have all been approved as potentially successful by doctors and researchers.