A hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm (or a myoclonic jerk, if you want to get technical!) The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle sitting at the bottom of your lungs which moves up and down when you’re breathing. Hiccupping is caused by a repeated nerve signal sent to the diaphragm telling it to contract. There are multiple potential causes for this repeated signal to begin in the first place. However, there is only one way to stop hiccupping: by interrupting this signal. Normally your body will do this on its own, but that can take a while. If you are looking for immediate hiccup relief, look no further. Below we will show you seven ways to put an end to those annoying hiccups. Find out which one works for you.
1. Press your hand.
Use one hand to apply pressure to the palm of the other. The harder you can do this without hurting yourself, the better. You can also accomplish this maneuver using one hand. Just squeeze the ball of your thumb with the fingers on the same hand.
How does this work? Because nerves that are excited by pressure are prioritized by your nervous system, the discomfort you experience while squeezing your hand can distract your body long enough for the overexcited nerves, which are causing your hiccups, to relax. The nice thing about this move is that it can be accomplished discretely. No need to excuse yourself during a dinner party. Simply hide what you are doing below the table.
2. Plug your ears.
This move will require you to excuse yourself, unless you don’t mind the puzzled looks. Simply stick your fingers in your ears or press the soft areas behind your earlobes. Don’t press hard though: your ears are sensitive, and you do not want to burst an eardrum by any means. All you need to do is apply a gentle pressure for 20 to 30 seconds. This will send a signal through a nearby nerve connected to the diaphragm that will tell your diaphragm to relax.
3. Drink some water.
Grab a glass of water and take nine or ten quick sips in a row. If you have a straw handy, you are even better off. When you are drinking, regular contractions of your esophagus (that’s the tube that brings food and water to your stomach) will overpower the spasms in your diaphragm which are causing your hiccups.
If you can plug your ears AND drink at the same time, that’s even better! Stick your fingers in your ears or behind your earlobes (see the previous step) and sip through a straw. You’ll be pressing on the nerve near your diaphragm while gaining the added benefit of swallowing.
4. Breathe into your hands.
Take both hands and cup them over your mouth and nose. Then breathe into them as normally as possible. Try to relax and count your breaths. Do this for about a minute. The extra carbon dioxide you will be breathing during this time will tell your diaphragm to relax. Keep in mind that breathing in extra carbon dioxide for too long (as in, more than a few minutes,) can give you a headache. So if this step doesn’t seem to be working after a minute or two give another one a try.
5. Hold your breath.
Take a deep breath: as deep as you can. Pull all that air into to your lungs and hold it there for as long as possible. While you are holding your breath, try swallowing a few times. The extra buildup of carbon dioxide in your lungs will relax your diaphragm. Your hiccups will hopefully be gone as a result.
Of course, we would like to stress that you shouldn’t hold your breath for too long (or even at all) if you have certain medical conditions like emphysema. You don’t want to pass out, you just get rid of your hiccups. Consider another strategy if this might be an issue for you.
While you are doing this you can also use steps one or two: while you are holding your breath and swallowing, try plugging your ears or pressing on your hand. Sometimes just the simple distraction of trying to do many things at once is all you really need!
6. Stick out your tongue.
It’s as simple as that, really! Sticking out your tongue can also be a great success if you need to get rid of hiccups. This is an exercise that singers and actors use. When done repeatedly, it stimulates the opening between the vocal chords (which is called the glottis).
As you stick your tongue out hold it there for a few seconds, and continue breathing normally. Repeat the process until your hiccups are good and gone. Sticking your tongue out causes you to breathe more smoothly. This calms your nerves which, in turn, tells your diaphragm to cut it out with the hiccups.
7. Sweet, sour, or salty.
Try overloading the nerve endings in your mouth to give your diaphragm the “shock” it needs. Put a teaspoonful of sugar at the back of your tongue. Let it sit there for a few seconds before washing it down with some water.
If this doesn’t do the trick, you can try something sour. Bite into a lemon wedge and suck the juice. Sounds disgusting right? But that feeling you have when you taste something sour is your body’s way of showing surprise. It works a lot like being scared by someone jumping out at you in order to scare you. You can even put a drop or two of a hard liquor like tequila or vodka on the lemon wedge, if you feel like it. This will increase the punch and some people feel that it works better.
You can also satisfy your sour quota with a teaspoon of vinegar or pickle juice every 10 seconds or so until the hiccups stop. If you want to go the salty route, all you need to do is fill a teaspoon with some regular table salt. Mix this into a cup of room temperature water and drink it down over a few seconds: not all at once! As you are drinking it, be sure to stay calm and relaxed. Remember to stir the glass occasionally or the salt will sink to the bottom.
Sure hiccups can be annoying, but you aren’t alone. Many people have shared in this inconvenience and have come up with some quirky and creative fixes for the problem. So give one or two of them a shot. Who knows, you might just put an end to your hiccupping woes.