Two Simple Remedies
Getting the hiccups can range from being merely annoying to downright painful and disruptive. While everyone seems to have home hiccup remedies passed down for generations, a lot of those hiccup cures turn out to be nothing more than old wives' tales or magical thinking. In order to find the best cures for hiccups over the years I have tried numerous techniques to find the ones that work with the least amount of hassle.
What Are Hiccups -- And How to Trick the Body Into Stopping Them
Hiccups are a spasming of the diaphragm, the muscle below the lungs that regulates breathing. The causes for this condition vary, but generally arise from shortness of breath or irritation of the esophagus or stomach. Laughter is a common cause, as is eating too quickly. Consumption of alcohol can also make a person more susceptible to hiccuping.
The methods that work to stop hiccups all involve creating an anaerobic state in the body -- tricking the spasming muscles to relax in order to conserve what little oxygen they have left.
What the Best Methods Have in Common -- Held Breath, Water, and Repeated Swallowing
A method I used for years to stop hiccups involved swallowing gulps of water while holding my breath. It worked, but wasn't what I would call foolproof. The theory behind it is to, firstly, create an anaerobic state so that muscles are starved of oxygen. Full lungs rather than empty lungs are necessary, as the pressure helps keep the spasming diaphragm in check. Swallowing forces the muscles to work, thus using up their existing supply of oxygen. The water itself helps to force you to hold your breath -- but I have found over the years that it is not strictly necessary. When you do use water one tip that helps is to use warm water, as it may play a role in further relaxing the muscles of the diaphragm.
The following are the two best cures I have discovered and used for hiccups, and their underlying similarity is easily seen:
The Water Cure
- Get a glass of warm water
- Fill your lungs to capacity before holding your breath
- Drink the glass in gulps -- try to do at least ten
- Keep holding your breath for as long as you can afterwards
The No Water Cure
- Fill your lungs to capacity and hold your breath
- Swallow without letting your breath out
- Inhale again -- it will feel like you cannot, but you can suck a little air in
- Repeat the process of inhaling and swallowing until you cannot hold your breath any longer -- five or six times is pretty good
Strangely I have found the no water cure to be the most effective, and it is certainly the most convenient if you are away from home. For both methods I recommend sitting up straight in a chair with good posture, and focusing on maintaining a steady and regular rhythm of breathing once you have stopped holding your breath.
Chronic, uncontrollable hiccups may be a sign of some other problem, and a physician should be consulted in these cases.