Doctor recommended tips for how to get rid of hiccups
- The most common causes of
hiccupsinclude swallowing air, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or carbonated beverages, and eating too much.
- Hiccups usually only last for a few minutes. If they are exceptionally painful or last for hours to days, it could be a sign of a more concerning underlying condition.
- One way to get rid of hiccups you can pull your knees to your chest to compress your diaphragm which may stop it from spasming.
- This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine.
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Hiccups can strike at unusual times like when your stomach is too full or you suddenly feel overly excited. Most of the time they pass quickly and are more annoying than harmful.
However, in rare cases, hiccups can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition like diabetes or kidney disease.
Many hiccup remedies, like scaring the person, may seem pretty unscientific. And it's true that there's little to no scientific evidence to recommend one hiccup remedy over another.
However, knowing what we do about what causes hiccups, experts can offer some advice on how to stop hiccuping.
What causes hiccups
During hiccups, the diaphragm also contracts, but in a more spastic, involuntary manner. The spasms are just one part of hiccups, though. The second part is that, after the diaphragm contracts, your vocal cords close, which creates the "hic" sound.
Scientists aren't exactly sure why we, and other animals, get hiccups in the first place since it doesn't seem to serve any real purpose, benefit, or advantage. What scientists do know are some of the most common causes of hiccups:
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Overeating or eating too quickly
- Swallowing air
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Feeling suddenly excited
How long do hiccups last
Most of the time, hiccups last for a few minutes. However, if your bout of hiccups is extremely frequent, painful, and lasts for hours or multiple days, this could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, and you should consider seeking medical help.
For example, your central nervous system is what controls the hiccup reflex. If your nervous system is damaged — like from a stroke or traumatic brain injury — this could lead to long-term hiccuping.
Other underlying conditions include diabetes, kidney disease, meningitis, and anesthesia. The Mayo Clinic has a complete list.
How to get rid of hiccups
Everyone seems to have their own hiccup cure. But there's limited evidence, aside from anecdotal, to prove one method works over another.
So, we asked Ehsan Ali, MD, a physician at Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor trained in internal medicine, for his advice. Ali recommends the following methods to stop hiccuping:
- Pull your knees to your chest. This compresses the diaphragm, which may stop it from spasming.
- Irritate the back of your throat. This area, called the nasopharynx, is connected to your respiratory system and diaphragm, which may kick start your diaphragm back to normal. You can do this by:
- Gargling with water (be extremely careful since hiccups could cause you to accidentally swallow some)
- Pulling on your tongue
- Sipping cold water
If you want to prevent yourself from getting hiccups, "the best thing to do is avoid things, foods, and drinks that you know will cause hiccups," says Ali. For example, cut down on soda if you know this is a trigger for you.
In addition, "hiccups typically should not be painful," Ali says. If your hiccups are frequent and painful, "there may be something more serious going on and you should seek medical attention."
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