Is There Really an Effective Remedy for Hiccups?

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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.

Drinking water

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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

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Yum.

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.

Getting scared

Beware of house prices that go bump in the night.
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

Concentrating
Pickles.

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

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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

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!

Share Your Thoughts

  • Sky

    I love Pickle Juice and drinking a shot of it helps every time. It’s never failed me. ^_^ A lot of people think I’m crazy when I tell them about it though.

  • Musicmaing

    Drinking water upside down has worked for me every single time. It’s tricky but quick and effective.

    • Maria Mer Ropele

      Me too! 👍

    • Jessica Trick

      Agreed!!

  • joanna

    Destracting your brain and vagus nerve makes sense. This works 9 out of 10 times for me… Find a relaxing spot were you can lay down. And slow ur breathing. Relax your throat and pretend like you are going to sleep. Like a charm!

  • Valerie Bognar

    Pickle juice works because it stimulates your gag reflex? Really?? no one told me that it is supposed to make you gag. I’ve been drinking pickle juice straight from the jar since I was little love it. I think the vinegar is good for your health. But I only drink the juice from pickles from the refrigerated section, Kosher dills. And yes it works for hiccups!

  • Craig

    I’ve taught this method to all of my children, and many others. Lay down flat on your back on the floor, and stretch your arms up over your head which stretches out your abdomen. Then, breathe deeply and slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth to control your breathing. It usually takes between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, but it has worked on every person who has done it.

  • Maria Mer Ropele

    I use a few different methods that work… 1. The good oldfashioned holding my breath. 2. Holding my breath while taking a drink. 3. Drinking out of a glass up-side-down. 4. Spoonful of peanut butter. 5. Drinking milk.

  • BaybiiGracee

    Distracting myself from the hiccups has always worked for me, I think about what I had for dinner the day before and then what I had the day before that, so on and so on until the hiccups have gone. But it only works if you really think hard about what you ate and not give up easily on trying to remember.

  • Thutruth

    Like the photo above, I learned from a friend to stand, then bend down low at the waist with my face toward my knees and drink water upside down by tipping the outward edge of a 1/4 cup of water. Works quick every time.

    • Jessica Trick

      Agreed 100%!!! It works like a charm. I’ll bend a little more if the hiccups are really bad.

  • Silent_Mode

    Laying flat on my back on my bed, while relaxing my mind, has cured them immediately for me every time (except once) since I first tried it nearly a year ago.