ChatterTip of the Month April 2009

How to Cure the Hiccups!

Photo courtesy of

I was talking with a dear friend the other day and somehow we found ourselves comparing remedies for curing hiccups, even though neither one was suffering from them at that moment. When he told me his solution, it was so hilarious, and my cure was pretty silly too, so I thought it would be fun to give you all a selection of favorite and bizarre cures for the hiccups this month! But before we get to the cures, what exactly are hiccups?

Hiccups are little more than a reflex that takes place when the “vagus” nerve (or one of its branches) gets irritated. The irritation may be the result of eating or drinking too fast, or perhaps eating food that is too spicy, or simply eating too much. The home remedies are believed to work in one of two ways, either by overwhelming the vagus nerve with another sensation or, by interrupting the breathing in some way so that the body stops thinking about the hiccups and concentrates on eliminating the carbon dioxide and breathing properly instead. So here is an assortment of cures:

Brown paper bag – tear off a piece of brown paper bag, lick one side to moisten it and then stick it on to your forehead – yeah, I know, sounds ridiculous, but check it out next time you have the hiccups, okay? Another cure is to simply breathe into a paper bag.

Just say “Boo!” – have someone literally scare the “c***” out of you by shouting loudly when you least expect it – tends to shock the hiccups right out of you!

The money method – if you are with a friend who has hiccups, wait until they hiccup and then tell them you will give them $20 if they can hiccup right now. The author of this suggestion has been doing this for years and has never had to part with his money!

Drinking water – this interrupts the vagus cycle but where I come from we added an extra twist by drinking from the other side of the glass. So fill a glass with water and hold it in front of your mouth tilted away from you slightly. Drink the water slowly from the opposite side of the glass. Bizarre but you’d be surprised!

Paper towel – for this one, fill a glass with water and then place a sheet of paper towel over the top of the glass and hold it in place with your hands. Drink the water very slowly ‘through” the paper towel, and those hiccups may just stop.

Holding your breath – hold your nose and close your mouth and hold your breath for as long as you can, just like you do when jumping into a swimming pool.

Plugging the ears – I remember this one from growing up but it required a partner. Drink slowly from a glass of water while the other person plugs up your ears with their fingers. Might be worth checking out by using a pair of earplugs if a partner isn’t available! And some sources say just plug the ears without even drinking any water.

Sticking out your tongue – this is weird – apparently sticking out your tongue and yanking on it may actually stop the hiccups!

Pressure point – press the indent in between your nose and upper lip for 30 seconds. This presses on a nerve that sends a message to the diaphragm. Looks stupid but works.

Something sweet – place a tablespoonful of sugar or peanut butter in your mouth and hold it there. Let is dissolve before swallowing.

Fish cure – this is one of the sillier ones I found. Supposedly, if you have hiccups, ask someone to simply ask you the question, “What swims in the ocean?” And when you answer “fish” your hiccups will magically be gone!

Vinegar – and what would our tips section be without mentioning our good old faithful friend vinegar? Next time you have the hiccups, drink a little vinegar.

Leave a Reply