There’s something about the hiccups that seems to always makes them come at the worst time. Just before you need to make an important phone call or during an exam in a quiet classroom, you feel the characteristic jolt of a hiccup, which you know is the unfortunate first of many. Without fail, those around you will be quick to offer up their personal remedies for hiccups, which range from traditional to terrifying.
Where hiccups come from
Some medical conditions like Parkinson’s or medication drugs, like those taken for chemotherapy, can cause hiccups as a side effect - but more often than not, hiccups are just a benign problem that won't require any attention from your doctor. Hiccups occur when the vagus nerve becomes irritated and causes an involuntary contraction, which might easily interrupt what you’re doing.
Which cures work?
To stop hiccups, you basically need to distract your vagus nerve, which runs from the brain down to the abdomen. Here is a look at some of the most popular hiccup cures and their effectiveness in calming the nerve.
Turn out, this is not the best way to drink water.
Many people look to a glass of water as a hiccup cure. Simple enough, right? Turns out it’s not enough to drink the water; it’s actually how you drink it. Some say it takes 26 small sips to cure hiccups, while others go for big gulps of water. Either strategy could work, so try one and move on to the other if the first fails. You can skip drinking upside down or sipping from the corner of your mouth, though. These strategies usually only succeed in making a mess.
Drinking pickle juice
The idea behind drinking pickle juice is to stimulate your gag reflex, which is an effective, albeit unpleasant way to stop hiccupping. One drawback (if you manage to keep the pickle juice down) is that you will have just ingested more salt and acid than you’ll ever want to in one sitting.
Don't mind me - just helping out a friend.
Startling the hiccups away is a method that is surprisingly logical, since a brief fright might make you jump or gasp. Both actions can stimulate the vagus nerve and put your hiccups at ease, but you will need a reliable way to get scared.
Mentally vanquishing hiccups
Directly stimulating your vagus nerve is one way to get rid of hiccups, but you might also have some luck by distracting your brain. Concentrating hard on a single word or trying to anticipate the next time you hiccup could do the trick.
Hanging upside down
So that's why Spiderman never seems to have the hiccups...
This takes the drinking water upside-down trick to a new extreme. While this strategy can work, unless you’re already swinging on the monkey bars, you might opt for another method first.
Snacking on sugar
This might cure your hiccups, but leave you with diabetes.
In the spirit of Mary Poppins, some people hold the belief that a little sugar will help ease the problem. This may not be the most effective strategy, because hiccups can become agitated by eating—particularly eating too much. Sucking on a hard candy might be helpful, but eating a piece of cake or a spoonful of peanut butter could backfire. Do you have any tried-and-true hiccup cures that we missed? Share what works for you in the comments below!