How do you cure hiccups?

Sarah Hasnain
23 January 2012

This article was reviewed and updated by CurioCity staff and volunteers in August 2017.

You have the lead role in your school play. All eyes are on you as you move across the stage. You open your mouth to speak. Suddenly, you hiccup.

Hiccups (singulitis) sure have a way of creating embarrassing situations! We’re all pretty vulnerable to hiccups. They can strike anytime, even at a party, or while you’re giving a major speech! So what should you do if you are under a hiccup attack? To answer this question, we must first understand hiccups themselves.

Did You Know? The world record holder for the longest hiccups attack hiccuped for 68 years!

What are hiccups?

Your diaphragm is one of the muscles that help you breathe. When you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts. When you breathe out, it relaxes. When you hiccup, your diaphragm is contracting involuntarily.These contractions draw air abruptly into the lungs, causing the epiglottis (cartilage tissue guarding the opening between the vocal chords) to close. This results in a hic sound.

Did You Know? The epiglottis helps make sure the right things are going down the right place! When you eat, your epiglottis makes sure food goes down your esophagus (your “food pipe”). When you breathe, your epiglottis makes sure air goes into your trachea and lungs (your “air pipes”).

Hiccups can be triggered by many things. Some examples are not drinking enough water, eating too fast, crying out loud (sobbing causes air to enter the stomach), and inhaling smoke. You might also get hiccups when you feel like there’s food in your esophagus.

Did You Know? According to the American Cancer Society, patients going through chemotherapy can suffer hiccups as a side effect.

Remedies

Most hiccups can be cured without any medical intervention. However, in serious cases, doctors prescribe medicine that limits your diaphragms contracts to stop hiccups.

There are also many home remedies that help stop hiccups. Many of these treatments are psychological, concentrating on shocking the individuals or relaxing them. Some treatments also involve eating or drinking. However, these remedies are not considered to be effective from a medical standpoint.

So if you're under a hiccup attack, don't stress. Just be patient and it will pass.

Learn more

What causes hiccups? (2014)
KidsHealth from Nemours

Hiccups? (2016)
Medscape

Hiccups (2017)
The Mayo Clinic

Sarah Hasnain

I am a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, specializing in Zoology and Near and Middle Eastern Studies. My hobbies are eating ramen, reading science magazines and learning new languages.






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