Introduction: Easy Hiccup Cure (& the Science Behind It!)

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)




There is no way to avoid them 100% of the time, and, unfortunately, some people have intractable hiccups which just won't seem to go away. Charles Osborne (not part of Ozzy's family--that's Osbourne with a "u") had hiccups for 68 years--from 1922 to February 1990--and was entered in the Guinness World Records as the man with the longest attack of hiccups, an estimated 430 million hiccups.

There's plenty of self-care remedies and folk remedies out there that you can try...they're best to use at parties or when you're feeling brave enough to be a guinea pig, but most often they aren't a guaranteed way to rid yourself of hiccups.

If you DON'T have intractable hiccups and you just get the occasional bout, then this instructable's scientifically proven method of curing your hiccups WILL work for you, every time.

Don't believe me? Try it and see for yourself! :)

Step 1: Fact or Fiction?

What do you call a redneck beer keg? A Hic--cup... :D

Before we get to the cure in the next step, I felt it important to show you the commonly believed methods of stopping your hiccups, both self-care remedies and medicinal. You can skip this step if you just want to know the cure in the next step ;) (But this step definitely makes for an interesting read!)

Self-Care Remedies (the following may or may not work, or may work occasionally but not always):

  • Hold your breath for 10-20 seconds
  • Drink a glass of water quickly
  • Drink a glass of water without taking a breath
  • Gargle water
  • Breathe into a paper bag for 20-30 seconds
  • Run in place
  • Do several stretches for 30 seconds
  • Pull hard on your tongue
  • Bite on a lemon
  • Sniff smelling salts
  • Put a cotton swab to the roof of your mouth
  • Gag yourself with your finger
  • Drink water with plugged ears
  • Run vinegar through your nose
  • Quickly drink a teaspoon of Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Eat a teaspoon of salt
  • Eat a teaspoon of sugar
  • Place sugar on or under the tongue
  • Get frightened by someone
  • Pinch the skin that covers the surface of the deltoid muscles
  • Put a big tablespoon of peanut butter in your mouth and hold it there for five seconds. Then swallow it without chewing.
  • Put a pencil horizontally in your mouth and while biting down on it, try to drink a glass of water without letting the pencil fall out.
  • Break a toothpick in half and put one half in a glass of water. Drink the water slowly while keeping your eye on the toothpick (so not to swallow it).
  • Fill up a glass of water halfway and then lay upside-down with your head hung over an edge (ie: on your bed). Pull yourself up to take a drink, then return to the upside-down position.
  • Drink half a teaspoon of pickle juice every 5-10 seconds until the hiccups stop
  • Lean your head back and place a penny on your forehead.
  • Put one straw in a glass of water and the other outside of the glass. Drink a few big gulps from both straws so you're sucking up water and air at the same time.

Medicinal drugs for relieving hiccups and intractable (stubborn) hiccups include:

  • Baclofen (A central nervous system depressant used as a skeletal muscle relaxant. It is primarily used to treat spasticity. It is also used by compounding pharmacies in topical pain creams as a muscle relaxant.)
  • Chlorpromazine (This is an anti-psychotic medication. It is primarily used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Other uses include the treatment of bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, nausea and vomiting, anxiety before surgery, and hiccups that do not improve following other measures.)
  • Metoclopramide (A medication used mostly for stomach and esophageal problems. It is commonly used to treat nausea and vomiting, to help with emptying of the stomach in people with delayed stomach emptying due to either diabetes or following surgery, and to help with gastroesophageal reflux disease.)
  • Gabapentin (A medication used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, hot flashes, and restless leg syndrome.)
  • Various proton-pump inhibitors (A group of drugs whose main action is a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production.)
  • Installing lidocaine liniment 3% or gel 2% into the ear canal (Lidocaine is a medication used to numb tissue in a specific area and to treat ventricular tachycardia.[3][4] It can also be used for nerve blocks.)
  • Haloperidol (Aka: Haldol, an anti-psychotic and sedative medication.)
  • Metoclopramide (Aka: Reglan, a gastrointestinal stimulant.)
  • Rhlorpromazine (Aka: Thorazine, an anti-psychotic with strong sedative effects.)
  • Sedatives
  • Persistent digital rectal massage (No explanation can tell what this is by the name.)
  • A vagus nerve stimulator implanted in the upper chest (A vagus nerve simulator sends rhythmic bursts of electricity to the brain by way of the vagus nerve, which passes through the neck. The Food and Drug Administration approved the vagus nerve stimulator in 1997 as a way to control seizures in some patients with epilepsy.)

Now that you're well informed (and you can see how some of these remedies or drugs COULD be dangerous for you in more ways than one), let's discuss the cure for hiccups and WHY it works scientifically...

Step 2: The Cure...

By definition, a "cure" is something that "relieve[s] (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition." Therefore, I call this approach a "cure."

This works....EVERY time. And it requires nothing but YOURSELF to achieve.

When you get a bout of hiccups, simply:

1. Take a deep breath in, then plug your nose and squeeze your lips shut so that you're holding your breath (make sure you don't cheat and breathe out of your nose or mouth--deliberately hold your breath).

2. While you're holding your breath completely, swallow hard a few times (at least 2-3 or until you can't do anymore). Make sure each one is a full swallow and that you don't cheat and breathe out of your mouth or nose during swallows.

That's it. The hiccups will now stop immediately and not return (until the next time you decide that Ghost Pepper you just ate wasn't hot enough and try a Carolina Reaper!) ;)

Step 3: Why It Works...

To dive into WHY it works, we need to first establish WHAT a hiccup is in the first place.

"A hiccup is an involuntary contraction (myoclonic jerk) of the diaphragm that may repeat several times per minute. In medicine, it is known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), or singultus, Latin for the act of catching one's breath while sobbing. The hiccup is an involuntary action involving a reflex arc. Once triggered, the reflex causes a strong contraction of the diaphragm followed about 0.25 seconds later by closure of the vocal cords, which results in the classic 'hic' sound."

This is the basic definition you can find by simply googling, "what is a hiccup."

So let's break that down into simpler terms. Basically, when functioning normally, the diaphragm pulls down to help pull air into your lungs when you inhale, and then relaxes to let the air flow back out of the lungs through the mouth and nose. When the diaphragm is irritated, it pulls down in a jerky way which makes you suck air into your throat suddenly. The air rushing in hits your voice box, and your vocal cords close suddenly. This results in a "hiccup."

Since your diaphragm is contracting (basically it's experiencing involuntary spasms), you counteract this movement by giving it something else to do (the holding breath and swallowing), which disrupts the spasms and therefore stops the hiccups.

The holding breath and swallowing works because...hiccups "are inhibited by elevations in PaCO2; this serves as the basis for breath holding or breathing into a paper bag as a common therapeutic intervention." Also from this site regarding hiccup self-care remedies: "They include rapidly swallowing water or ice chips, breath holding, and re-breathing from a paper bag. In all of these cases, a subsequent elevation in PaCO2 could explain positive results when they occur." Emphasis mine, (The exact citations that this website uses for these claims are listed with asterisks * in the footnote of this step.)

This is the same concept that all the other self-care methods are trying to achieve, except they just didn't put 2 and 2 together (the swallowing action WITH the holding your breath). The reason most of the remedies don't always work is because they are only using a one-part approach. So the cure in this instructable is basically the "double whammy" on your hiccups (giving your diaphragm a supercharged counteracting), therefore it works every time (when done properly).

Continued research done by experts:

From Huffington Post's article Brian Udermann, Ph.D., an exercise and sports science professor at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and the author of “25 Ways to Cure the Hiccups: Uncovering the Truth Behind 101 Common Myths and Misconceptions" explains that:

"Anything you do in regard to your breath, [makes it] possible that you could disrupt that nerve impulse from the brain to the diaphragm so you stop the hiccups.' A little extra carbon dioxide may also help to relax the diaphragm, according to Dr. Oz, although we don't know exactly why." (emphasis mine)

The article continues...

"Swallowing -- which, when you think about it, is a temporary change in your breathing...may override those diaphragm spasms, according to Reader's Digest Canada. 'It doesn't matter if you drink upside down or sideways or from a spoon,' says Udermann. 'It's that act that could be disruptive.' " (emphasis mine)

His response to if you eat a spoonful of anything is:

"But there's not likely anything specific about the peanut butter or the sugar or the bitters that's easing those hiccups. Like with drinking and breathing tricks, eating has the potential to affect your breath and therefore your diaphragm." (emphasis mine)

Discovery Health (in this same article) answers in regards to being scared as a hiccup cure:

"A little scare could work for two reasons. First of all, it's likely to change your breathing cycle -- hear that gasp you just made? It may also work as a mental distraction, which seems to quell hiccups. Want proof? Have someone ask you to hiccup on the spot, and see what happens." (emphasis mine)

THE BOTTOM LINE: You need to counteract the spasm that is going on in your diaphragm. Since the diaphragm is used in breathing (inhaling and exhaling), anything that effects your breathing will be suitable in counteracting it's spasms. Swallowing and holding your breath go hand-in-hand (as research here proves that swallowing is just another alternative to holding your breath in how it works in the body), so this gives a blasting boost of disruption to your diaphragm, particularly when used together (versus separately). Therefore, IT WORKS.

Though there are many more studies we can find and experts we can ask about why this cure works (versus just holding your breath or just eating/swallowing), but the main points have been presented here and the rest would be repetitive. So, if you want more research--DO YOUR RESEARCH (it's fun!) :) And I hope this cure and the knowledge presented here have helped you dive deeper into the somewhat-mysterious world of hiccups!


*Aldrich T. K., Tso R. The lungs and neuromuscular diseases. In: Mason R. J., Murray J. F., Broadus V. C., Nadel J. A., editors. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2005.

*Smith H. S. Hiccups. In: Walsh D., editor. Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2009.

*Moretti R., Torre P. Hiccups. In: Bope E. T., Rakel R. E., Kellerman R., editors. Conn's Current Therapy 2010. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2010.

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