Hiccups are one of those strange human functions that everyone experiences, yet no one has a clear explanation for. Because the hiccups are such a common occurrence, they also come with a host of home remedies and techniques for getting rid of them. When you or your child has the hiccups, you can try a few different tricks for getting rid of them quickly.
Hiccups occur when your diaphragm undergoes spasms. The diaphragm is the muscle between your abdominal organs and your chest cavity and is responsible for controlling breathing. When the diaphragm involuntarily experiences contractions, it causes hiccups. Hiccups are the sound that you make each time your diaphragm contracts, as it causes the vocal cords to close.1
Unlike sneezing or coughing which are the body’s natural ways of eliminating and clearing obstructions, hiccups do not appear to have any benefit for the body. Additionally, hiccups don’t have just one cause. Different people may experience hiccups for different reasons.2
Here are some possible reasons for developing hiccups:1
- Irritation to the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the abdomen
- Drinking carbonated beverages or alcohol
- Eating too much, too quickly
- Becoming excited or emotionally distressed
- Swallowing air when chewing gum
- Experiencing a sudden change in temperature
For other people, experiencing hiccups frequently may be the result of a digestive condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, acid reflux or bloating, which can trigger a response in the diaphragm.2
Having metabolic problems or central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis or a traumatic brain injury may also increase the risk of developing hiccups more frequently.1
Top Natural Remedies for Hiccups
In most cases, hiccups will go away on their own within a few minutes, so waiting patiently is the best way to deal with them. However, if you’ve developed a particularly persistent case of hiccups, especially in children, then you can try some of the following ways for getting rid of hiccups:
Holding the Breath Technique - One of the oldest remedies in the book, holding the breath stops your diaphragm from working, which can relax it and stop the contractions. Take a deep breath and hold for 10 seconds, followed by slow, deep breathing.
Sugar - To reset the vagus nerve and stop the irritation that has triggered hiccups, you can swallow a spoonful of sugar, which is believed to stimulate the vagus nerve.
Apple Cider Vinegar - Similarly as swallowing sugar, sipping a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar can also help to stimulate the vagus nerve and reset it to stop the hiccups.
Peanut Butter - Swallowing a spoonful of peanut can help to stop hiccups because its chewy, thick texture requires an interruption in swallowing and breathing, which can interfere with the diaphragm’s contractions.
Cold Water - Drinking a glass of cold water can also help to interrupt any irritation in the vagus nerve that’s causing hiccups. Sip slowly on cold water whenever you feel another hiccup coming on.