Hiccups are sudden, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. As the muscle contracts repeatedly, the opening between the vocal cords snaps shut to check the inflow of air and makes the hiccup sound. Irritation of the nerves that extend from the neck to the chest can cause hiccups.
Although associated with a variety of ailments (some can be serious such as pneumonia or when harmful substances build up in the blood for example from kidney failure), hiccups are not serious and have no clear reason for occurring. Rarely, their presence causes health problems such as speech changes or interference with eating and sleeping. Many conditions can cause this irritation and result in hiccups, including:
– Overeating or eating to fast
– Strong emotions such as fear, anciety, joy or euphoria
– Consumption of carbonated beverages
– Eating dry or spicy foods
– A temperature change in the stomach – drinking cold after a hot beverage
– Consuming alcohol in large quantities
– Highly laughing
How can you help yourself?
– Most cases of hiccups can be cured or resolve in a short period of time and are rarely a medical emergency. See your doctor if hiccups last more than three hours, or if they disturb your eating or sleeping habits.
– Home remedies or ways to get rid of hiccups include: holding your breath, drinking a glass of water quickly, pulling hard on your tongue, biting on a lemon, gargling with water, and using smelling salts.
– Rarely, a doctor may prescribe medications such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), haloperidol (Haldol), and metoclopramide (Reglan) for severe, persistent hiccups.
– Drink cold water. Quickly drink 10 small sips of cold water, or do a gargle with the cold water instead.
– Eat a teaspoon of sugar of honey
– Get scarred! Having someone surprise you can overwhelm the vagus nerve and stop hiccups.
– Take magnesium! This mineral tends to decrease irritation and quiet the nerves.
– Have some peanut butter! During chewing the peanut butter, swallowing and breathing patterns are interrupted so the hiccups will be gone.
– Chew up some dill! Slowly chew a teaspoon of dill seeds. Swallowing the seeds stimulates the vagus nerve and this puts an end to hiccups.
– Breathe into a paper bag. If you dont have a paper bag cover your nose and mouth with your hands and breathe that way.
– Stick out your tongue. Stick your tongue out hard to stop the hiccup.
– Biting on a lemon or tasting vinegar.
– Pulling your knees up to your chest and/or leaning forward to compress the chest.
– First, block off all airways by putting fingers in your ears and blocking your nostrils. Then, take a sip or two of water from a glass. It is possible to do this alone (looks a bit silly – but is possible) but you may find it easier with an assistant.