Hiccups are little more than a reflex. You get them when the vagus nerve or one of its branches, which runs from the brain to the abdomen, is irritated. Experts say hiccups are most often a reaction to common digestive disturbances. And they’re usually more a nuisance than anything else. Even infants hiccup, and the reflex continues, about three to five times a year, throughout life.

The home remedies used to stop hiccups are believed to work on two principles. One way to stifle hiccups is to overwhelm the vagus nerve with another sensation. The vagus nerve signals the brain that more important matters have arisen, so it’s time to knock off the hiccups. Other methods interfere with breathing, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. This probably causes the body to become more concerned with getting rid of the carbon dioxide than making hiccups.

Here are some tried-and-true remedies for hiccups from both “camps.”

Hiccups are those annoying, involuntary fits that make it nearly impossible to carry on a conversation.Image Credit: Wendy Ashton/Getty Images

1: Sweeten the Hiccups

Overloading the nerve endings in the mouth with a sweet sensation may do the trick. Have a teaspoonful of sugar, and if you can, place the sugar on the back of the tongue, where “sour” is tasted. This way, the sugar overload will pack the most punch.


A spoonful of sugar makes pretty much anything go down.Image Credit: Stockbyte/Getty Images

2: Play “Hear no Evil”

Some doctors recommend that you put your fingers in your ears to stop hiccups. The branches of the vagus nerve also reach into the auditory system, and by stimulating the nerve endings there, the vagus nerve goes into action. But be gentle, and don’t stick your fingers too far into your ears.


holding earsImage Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Kati Neudert

3: Get Scared Silly

Having someone surprise you can overwhelm the vagus nerve and put an end to hiccups.


You think a bear in the wild is scary? Try a bear at breakfast.Image Credit: Image Source/Getty Images

4:Drink Water

Swallowing water interrupts the hiccupping cycle, which can quiet the nerves. Gargling with water may also have the same effect.


Swallowing or gargling water may get rid of your hiccups.Image Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Catherine Yeulet

5: Pull on Your Tongue

Sticking out your tongue and yanking on it may stop hiccups.

Try pulling on your tongue to stop hiccups.Image Credit: Digital Vision/Getty Images

6: Tickle Them Away

Tickling the soft palate of the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab may do the trick. Or, if you’re the type who enjoys getting tickled, have someone find your ticklish spots.



Try placing a cotton swab on the roof of your mouth.Image Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Monika Adamczyk

7: Hold Your Breath

Hold your nose and close your mouth–the way you would when you’re ready to jump into a pool–for as long as you can or until you sense that the hiccups are gone.


8: Bag Those Hiccups

The old standby, breathing into a paper bag, is believed to work on the same principle as the breath-holding method. Both increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, and the body becomes preoccupied with getting rid of it and forgets about the hiccups.


The brown paper bag is a classic lunch box choice and hiccup solution.Image Credit: Tooga/Getty Images

9: Take an Antacid

This method may be more effective if you choose one that contains magnesium, since the mineral tends to decrease irritation and quiet the nerves. One or two tablets should take care of hiccups.


Antacids should clear up your hiccups.Image Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Ispixel

10: Eat Slower

If you eat fast, you are probably not chewing food thoroughly, which seems to cause hiccups. And rapid-fire feeding causes air to get trapped between pieces of food, which may set off the vagus nerve. Chew deliberately and take smaller sips of drinks to keep your air intake to a minimum.


Eating slower may help your weight and your hiccups.Image Credit: Philip J Brittan/Getty Images

11: Don’t Pig Out

Overloading the stomach with food is another cause of hiccups. Some experts theorize that hiccups are your body’s way of telling you to quit eating so your digestive system has time to process all the food you’ve forced down your gullet.


Don’t overload your stomach.Image Credit: © iStockphoto.com/VisualField

12: Avoid Spicy Foods

Some spices can irritate the lining of the esophagus and stomach. At the same time, they can also cause acid from the stomach to leak into the esophagus. The extra acid can bring on hiccups.


Chili peppers vary in size and spiciness and won’t help your hiccups.Image Credit: Artville

13: Drink in Moderation

Like spices, alcoholic beverages can cause a simultaneous irritation of the esophagus and the stomach. And over time, excessive drinking can damage the lining of the food pipe. Parties, like the kind some college students attend, where people are sometimes dared to consume a lot of alcohol as quickly as possible, can lead to acute ingestion. The digestive system not only becomes irritated by the alcohol, but big gulps of it cause the esophagus to expand rapidly, resulting in hiccups.


Alcohol can irritate your esophagus and stomach.


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