Stop Hiccups Using Varied Remedies

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng

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Hiccups can be as funny as they are irritating. An episode lasting for a few minutes may be totally ignored because, for the most part, hiccups are harmless and resolve on their own. But, when the series of "hic" noise persists, they can quickly become bothersome. If they occur more frequently and last longer than usual, they can be both embarrassing and frightening. Thus it comes as no surprise that many theories on the cause and cure for hiccups thrive in our midst, including some recommended methods from the old wives' club. While hiccups do not normally require treatment, it is important to know about the various remedies available in case a bout does not turn out to be funny at all.

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In more technical term, hiccups or hiccoughs are medically known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF), or otherwise termed as singultus. Hiccups are repetitive, involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle found below the lungs helping to regulate breathing. When the diaphragm contracts out of rhythm, the epiglottis (larynx and the vocal cords) snaps shut at the same time, blocking air passage. When air suddenly flows into the lungs, the body reacts by gasping, producing the distinctive "hic" sound. Unlike other forms of body reflexes, such as coughing and sneezing, there seems to be no useful purpose for hiccups.

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Hiccups can affect both men and women equally. Generally, they mainly occur in the evening, but they are more common in women after a menstruation period and very rare during pregnancy.

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Causes of Hiccups

Experts have no clear evidence on what mechanisms cause hiccups, or why they happen. Most people experience hiccups without any known reason. In most cases, however, hiccups are attributed to the following circumstances and conditions:

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  • Sudden excitement
  • Emotional stress
  • Presence of gas in the stomach
  • Swollen stomach due to overeating
  • Consumption of carbonated drinks
  • Swallowing air
  • Irritated phrenic nerve due to eating hot food
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Excessive cigarette smoking

Hiccups may suddenly come and go, requiring no treatment. Because of its vagueness, there's no any established cure known to directly treat hiccups. While doctors may recommend certain medication after series of tests, some people rely on their own favorite method to remedy hiccups. Interestingly, most of the unusual ideas are based on the science of breathing. Thus if one method does not work, there are still more to try until the hiccups are gone. <b?the indefinite="" list="" can="" be="" divided="" into="" popular="" or="" folk="" remedies,="" natural="" alternative,="" and="" medical="" treatments.="" <="" b="">

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Popular or Folk Remedies for Hiccups

  1. 1
    Hold your breath.
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    Breathe in and sustain for about 10 seconds before slowly breathing out. Repeat a couple of times. If the hiccups persist, repeat the process. You may also hold the nose while the mouth is closed for as long as you can hold your breath or until the hiccups fade.
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  2. 2
    Breathe into a paper bag.
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    The same principle as in holding the breath method, breathing into a paper bag also increases the supply of carbon dioxide in bloodstream. The body becomes busy in removing it, forgetting its bout with hiccups.
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  3. 3
    Stick the fingers into the ears.
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    Do this to stimulate the vagus nerve, connected to the auditory system.
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  4. 4
    Get scared.
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    Ask someone to surprise or scare you to overwhelm the vagus nerve and stop the hiccups from bothering you.
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  5. 5
    Compress the chest.
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    Pull the knees up to your chest and hug them tightly for two to four minutes.
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  6. 6
    Drink in a bent position.
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    Stand up and bend the body over. Put the mouth on the far side of the glass. Tilt the glass away from you to drink the water.
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  7. 7
    Drink with a pencil between the teeth.
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    Get a pencil and position it horizontally in the mouth by biting down on it. Drink a glass of water without removing the pencil.
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  8. 8
    Stick out the tongue.
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    Pull the tongue out and hold the end with your fingers. Yanking the tongue stimulates the vagus nerve and relieves diaphragm spasms.
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  9. 9
    Wait until the hiccups go away.
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    Hiccups tend to resolve more quickly if you ignore them.
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Natural Home Remedies for Hiccups

  1. 1
    Sugar.
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    Place a teaspoon of sugar on the "sour" side at the back of the tongue. Swallow the sugar when it melts. The sweet sensation will stimulate the nerve endings, causing the hiccups to stop.
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  2. 2
    Lemon or Vinegar.
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    Suck the juice from a slice of lemon or drop a small amount of vinegar in the mouth. The punchy taste will have the same effect on the nerve endings in the mouth.
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  3. 3
    Peanut Butter.
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    Put a tablespoon of peanut butter in your mouth and let it stay for 5 to 10 seconds before swallowing without chewing.
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  4. 4
    Salt.
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    Swallow a teaspoon of salt, then push it down with a small quantity of water. Breathe slowly to stay relaxed during the process.
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  5. 5
    Chamomile Tea.
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    Steep a bag of chamomile tea in one cup of hot water for at least half an hour before drinking. Chamomile has muscle relaxant properties that can help ease the contractions in the diaphragm.
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  6. 6
    Water.
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    Whether you sip or gargle, swallowing water interrupts the cycle of hiccups and relaxes the nerves.
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  7. 7
    Antacid.
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    Take one or two antacids that contain magnesium. The mineral lessens irritation and soothes the nerves.
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Medical Assessments and Treatment for Persistent Hiccups

It is very rare for hiccups to last longer than a few minutes, or to recur in short bouts for more than 48 hours. If they persist, you need to see a doctor to examine you and do some tests to find out the underlying cause. Initial tests include

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  • Echocardiogram or electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess the function of the heart
  • Chest X-ray for imaging of the diaphragm
  • Blood chemistry tests to verify signs of diabetes and other diseases
  • Liver function tests
  • Endoscopy to investigate the esophagus, windpipe, and intestine
  • Bronchoscopy to examine the lungs and airways

If an underlying cause is detected, the treatment for such is given, leading to the disappearance of hiccups. For example, a person with persistent hiccups may be suffering from acid reflux. Treating the reflux will eventually stop the hiccups.

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Underlying Causes or Conditions for Persistent Hiccups

  1. 1
    Reaction of the body to certain medicines such as steroids, painkillers with opiates, and tranquilizers.
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  2. 2
    Change in blood chemistry caused by factors such as high blood sugar, calcium deficiency in the blood, and presence of alcohol in the blood.
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  3. 3
    Gut problems such as infection under the diaphragm or in the gallbladder.
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  4. 4
    Side effect of general anaesthesia.
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  5. 5
    Heart conditions such as inflammation around the heart area.
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  6. 6
    Brain conditions such as infection or head injury.
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  7. 7
    An occurrence during the last stages of a terminal illness.
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When none of the popular and natural remedies succeed in treating hiccups, your doctor may prescribe the following drugs:

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  • Baclofen: a medicine for relaxing the muscles
  • Gabapentin: a drug for treating epilepsy, and also used to treat neuropathic pain and hiccups
  • Chlorpromazine or Haloperidol: both antipsychotic drugs can relax the diaphragm muscle or its nerve supply.
  • Metoclopramide: a drug to treat nausea and help empty the stomach faster
  • Ketamine: an intravenous anaesthetic which is an effective option when other treatments fail to cure hiccups
  • Midazolam: a sedative given to terminally-ill patients to control and relieve the stress caused by hiccups

Alternative Treatments for Persistent Hiccups

  1. 1
    Acupuncture:
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    The treatment is focused on resolving the disharmony in the body and encouraging the stomach to perform its natural descending function.
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  2. 2
    Hypnotherapy:
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    During a therapeutic trance, the mind can tell the body how to react, including how to counter hiccups.
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  3. 3
    Meditation:
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    To help calm down the nerves and autonomic nervous system.
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Invasive Options to Treat Extreme Cases of Hiccups

  1. 1
    Nasogastric Intubation:
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    The process involves inserting a tube through the nose into the stomach to remove intestinal obstruction causing hiccups
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  2. 2
    Surgical Implantation of Diaphragmatic Pacemaker:
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    The device is used to stimulate the phrenic and vagus nerves, and to regulate breathing.
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  3. 3
    Injection of Local Anaesthesia:
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    This is done to block the phrenic nerve. This treatment must be carefully considered for the risks it carries because the phrenic nerve is essential in breathing.
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Possible Complications of Hiccups

  • Communication problems
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Longer healing of post-surgical wounds

How to Prevent Hiccups

  1. 1
    Eat slowly.
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    Eating fast will not help in chewing the food thoroughly. Speed feeding allows air to be trapped in-between food pieces, triggering off the vagus nerve. Chew food carefully and drink in small sips for minimum air intake.
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  2. 2
    Don't overload the stomach.
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    Hiccups are theorized as a signal that the stomach is already full. Give the digestive system time to process all the food in the stomach.
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  3. 3
    Avoid spicy food.
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    Some spices can cause acid leakage into the esophagus, leading to irritation that eventually results in hiccups.
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  4. 4
    Drink alcohol in moderation.
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    Excessive alcohol in the body can enlarge the esophagus and irritate it. Over time, alcohol can damage the food pipe lining, resulting in hiccups.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

  • Maintain an adequate supply of oxygen when trying popular remedies. Don't attempt to hold your breath for more than 10 seconds, nor breathe into a paper bag for longer than 30 seconds.
  • When treating hiccups by drinking water, wait for a hiccup to pass first before taking a sip. It is possible to choke if you hiccup while swallowing water.
  • See your doctor immediately if the hiccups occur frequently and last more than a few hours. There may be an underlying cause needing prompt treatment.

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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Lynn, Anonymous, Nerissa Avisado

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