Simple & Effective Ways to Get Rid of Hiccups

Many people get hiccups now and then.1 They usually go away by themselves in a few minutes.1 But, there are tricks that can make them stop sooner. We’ll look at why hiccups happen, how to make them go away, and when to worry about them lasting too long.

Key Takeaways

  • Hiccups are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle responsible for breathing.
  • Common triggers for hiccups include stress, strong emotions, eating, drinking, and swallowing air.
  • Breathing techniques, eating and drinking remedies, and pressure point methods can help stop hiccups.
  • Chronic or persistent hiccups lasting more than 48 hours may require medical attention.
  • Avoiding potential triggers and managing underlying conditions can help prevent recurrent hiccups.

What are Hiccups?

Hiccups are involuntary spasms of the diaphragm. This large muscle helps us breathe.2 When it spasms, our vocal cords close quickly, making a “hic” sound. Many things can cause hiccups. These include a full stomach, some medicines, and eating or drinking too fast.

Involuntary Spasms of the Diaphragm

The diaphragm is key for us to breathe. When it spasms, we feel and hear hiccups.2 Our body does this to stop air from entering our lungs in a sudden way.

Causes of Hiccups

It’s not always clear why hiccups happen.2 They may occur from nerve irritation or other health issues. Eating or drinking quickly, having alcohol or spicy food, and sudden changes in stomach temperature can start hiccups.2 Stress, strong feelings, and some medications or health problems can also play a part in getting hiccups.

Breathing Techniques to Stop Hiccups

When you’re looking to stop hiccups, various breathing techniques can help. They work by changing the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood. This alteration can reduce the hiccup reflex.2

Hold Your Breath and Swallow

One easy method is to hold your breath and then swallow three times. This can break the cycle of hiccup spasms in your diaphragm. It often brings relief.2

Breathe into a Paper Bag

Breathing into a paper bag can also be useful. It increases carbon dioxide in your blood to stop hiccups. But, do this with care as it might make you feel dizzy.2

Take Deep, Slow Breaths

Taking slow, deep breaths can help with hiccups too. This method regulates your diaphragm. It might break the hiccup cycle.2

Using a mix of these breathing methods might stop your hiccups. Keep in mind, what helps one person may not work for another. It’s important to stay patient and try different approaches.2

breathing techniques for hiccups

Eating and Drinking Remedies

When hiccups won’t stop, you can try some tricks with food and drinks. Sipping cold water can work. Also, biting a lemon or having some dry bread or sugar might do the trick. These actions can affect the body’s vagus nerve. This nerve plays a role in telling the brain not to hiccup.3 So, cold water and lemon may stop hiccups by working on this nerve, while bread or sugar can help the diaphragm calm down.4

Sip Cold Water Slowly

Drinking cold water gently might help break the hiccup cycle. The sudden cold can get to the vagus nerve, possibly stopping those sudden diaphragm movements.3

Bite into a Lemon

Eating a lemon or just tasting a wedge can end hiccups. The sourness sends a signal to the vagus nerve, stopping the hiccups.4

Swallow Dry Bread or Granulated Sugar

Swallowing a bit of dry bread or sugar can make the diaphragm stop twitching. This could quiet the hiccups by sort of “restarting” your breathing muscle.3

These food and drink ideas, along with the breathing methods from before, are great hiccup stoppers.4 But, if hiccups won’t go away or keep coming back, getting help from a doctor is smart.2

Pressure Point Remedies

Some folks stop hiccups by pressing specific points on their body.5 This includes gently pulling the tongue or putting light pressure on the diaphragm. Doing so might stop the spasm that causes hiccups. These methods seem to wake up the nerves that move the diaphragm.

Pull on Your Tongue

To stop hiccups, try gently pulling your tongue. Grasp your tongue firmly and pull it out for a bit, then let it go. Repeat until the hiccups stop.

Press on Your Diaphragm

Lightly press on the diaphragm if you have hiccups.5 Put your fingertips below your chest and press gently. Do this for 3-5 minutes while you take deep breaths. It might help by working on the diaphragm’s nerves to stop the reflex.

Using pressure point remedies for hiccups can work for some. Yet, there isn’t much scientific proof they work.56 Still, they’re safe to try together with other methods for stopping hiccups.

how to get rid of hiccups

The secret to stopping hiccups is trying different methods. What helps one person might not help another. Often, changing your breathing, tickling the vagus nerve, or finding a distraction for the diaphragm works best. Hiccups usually stop by themselves after a bit.3 But, if they keep going, it’s wise to see a doctor. Especially if they won’t go away or keep coming back.

Hiccups that last a long time might signal other health issues. These can include acid reflux, damage to the brain, infections, or even stroke-related problems.3 Some medications, such as those for epilepsy, or even cancer treatments, can also trigger hiccups.3 People have tried and sometimes succeeded in stopping hiccups by swallowing sugar, gargling with water, or even holding their breath.

If hiccups last more than 48 hours, or if they make everyday things hard like eating or sleeping, then it’s time to get medical help.3 Babies can get hiccups often from swallowing air. Although not usually a big issue, if they also seem to have acid reflux, it might need attention.3 And, if hiccups come with more severe symptoms like trouble breathing or chest pain, don’t wait.

Doctors might order blood tests to check for certain health conditions that could be causing hiccups.7 They might also do imaging tests to see the diaphragm or its nerves better. This includes things like X-rays or MRIs.7 For hiccups that won’t stop, they can prescribe special medications.

In serious cases, there are procedures to help stop hiccups. This might involve numbing a nerve or even surgery to put in a device that can help.7 Changing what you eat and drink, and trying out activities like hypnosis or acupuncture, might also provide some relief.

Hiccups can start from many causes, like a full stomach or certain health problems.4 They usually go away on their own after a little while.4 There are simple tricks to try at home, like eating a lemon or blowing up a balloon, that might stop hiccups.

Even babies can have hiccups. But simple things like changing their position or helping them burp can make a difference.4 If hiccups don’t stop after a couple of days, they might need a specific treatment based on what’s causing them. This could be a change in their medicine or perhaps some other medical procedure.

Finding out what triggers your hiccups, like stress or certain foods, can help avoid getting them.4 Most hiccups go away without any special treatment. But if they keep happening, it could be a sign of a deeper health issue. Getting them checked by a doctor if they’re sticking around and affecting your life is a good idea.

how to get rid of hiccups

Preventing Hiccups

It’s hard to never get hiccups, but there are ways to lower the chances.8 Things like fizzy drinks, alcohol, stress, and eating too fast can start them.8 Also, drinking lots of diet soda, coffee, or eating big meals before sleep can play a part.

Avoid Triggers

To prevent hiccups, know what might set them off and steer clear when you can.8 This means watching out for fizzy drinks, spicy food, and not eating too much before bed.8 Eating slowly and standing or sitting up for a while after eating can also cut down on hiccups.

Manage Underlying Conditions

8 Hiccups that keep happening for over two weeks might mean a health problem like overusing alcohol, diabetes, or kidney issues.2 They could also hint at pancreas, liver issues, or stomach ulcers.8 Getting help from a doctor for ongoing hiccups is important. They could signal a serious health issue that needs checking by a professional.

Hiccups in Infants

Hiccups often happen in babies and it’s usually no big deal.9 They can even start before the baby is born.9 This is very common in brand new babies.9 Things like too much gas, eating too much, or swallowing air during feeding can all cause hiccups.9 Sometimes, hiccuping a lot can be a sign of a stomach problem called Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD). This may come with other signs like coughing, throwing up after eating, being really fussy, or arching their back.9

Parents can do a few things to try to stop the hiccups.9 Changing how the baby is sitting or helping them relax is a good start.9 It’s also worth keeping the baby more upright when you feed them and making sure they burp often.9 Using a pacifier can relax the baby and stop the hiccups.9 There’s also something called gripe water, which is a natural mix sold in stores. This might help the hiccups.9

10A study from 2019 found that hiccups might help babies’ brains and lungs.10 Babies under 1 often get the hiccups, but they usually go away on their own in 10 minutes or so.10 Gripe water is sometimes used for hiccups, but it’s not been proven to really work. It might even cause problems for breastfeeding if the baby is too young.10

10There are some ways to try to not let babies get hiccups often.10 Making sure they’re calm when they eat and not doing any big activities right after meals can help.10 Keeping babies upright for a while after they eat could also prevent hiccups. But, if the baby gets the hiccups a lot and seems really upset, has trouble breathing or eating, has blue lips, sleeps badly, or if the hiccups last more than 2 hours or don’t go away after their first birthday, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.10

Chronic Hiccups

Hiccups usually stop in a few minutes. But for some, they last longer. These can go on for over 48 hours (persistent hiccups) or even more than a month (intractable hiccups).2 They really change how someone lives and might need a doctor’s help to fix the issue.

Persistent Hiccups

When hiccups go on for more than 48 hours, they’re called chronic. If this lasts over a month, they are intractable.2 Chronic hiccups can make someone very tired, mess with sleep, and even cause weight loss if eating is hard.2 Most times, you won’t need a doctor, but bad cases that don’t get better with usual fixes might need special medicine.2

Intractable Hiccups

Charles Osborne once had hiccups for 68 years, from 1922 to 1990.2 Chronic hiccups can come from different things and make life hard.2 They might start from fizzy drinks, big meals, or even just swallowing air. They’re usually not a big deal, but for some, they stick around too long.2 Most times, hiccups get better on their own, but sometimes they last and mess with what you can do every day.2

Medical Treatments for Chronic Hiccups

If you’ve tried home remedies for chronic hiccups without success, doctors might suggest medications or more serious treatments.7 Drugs like baclofen, chlorpromazine, or gabapentin can help by relaxing the diaphragm. This interrupts the hiccup reflex. In more severe cases, treatments such as acupuncture, positive pressure ventilation, or nerve blocks may be needed to tackle the root cause.7


Doctors often start with prescription medications to treat chronic hiccups.7 Baclofen, a type of muscle relaxant, has proven to reduce hiccups in studies since 1992. It works by making the diaphragm less jumpy.11 Gabapentin is another option, normally for seizures, but it’s been successful in treating hiccups. Research shows doses of 900 to 1200 milligrams daily improved hiccups in 32 out of 43 patients.11 Other drugs such as chlorpromazine, metoclopramide, and nifedipine can also help manage these persistent hiccups.711

Invasive Treatments

When medicines don’t work, doctors may turn to more invasive solutions for chronic hiccups.7 For instance, they might inject an anesthetic to numb the phrenic nerve, which is key in controlling the diaphragm. Or, they could do surgery to place a device that stimulates the vagus nerve, breaking the hiccup cycle.7 Sometimes, hiccups can be stopped with lidocaine through an IV in post-op patients. But, this approach has risks for the heart and brain.11 Other strategies like hypnosis and acupuncture are also being studied for their effectiveness in handling long-term hiccups.7

When to Seek Medical Help

Most hiccups go away by themselves soon. But, if hiccups last over 48 hours or make it hard to eat, drink, sleep, or breathe, seeing a doctor is wise.7 Long-lasting or chronic hiccups could point to hidden health issues needing care.3

Don’t ignore hiccups sticking around more than 48 hours, affecting your daily life.3 If they come with signs of stroke or pulmonary embolism, dial 911 right away.3

For babies, acid reflux can show up with hiccups.3 If your baby hiccups a lot or it bothers their feeding or sleep, a visit to the pediatrician is a good move.

Usually, hiccups are short-lived. But if they stay for days (persistent) or weeks (intractable), they can become a real problem.7 These can seriously affect life quality and might signal a need for medical help.7

ConditionKey Findings
Persistent or Intractable Hiccups97 out of 148 people with persistent or intractable hiccups were cured by a few minutes of acupressure on the dip below the earlobe.3
Gastrointestinal DisordersThe Merck Manual Professional Version points out the importance of finding the cause of hiccups in stomach problems.7
Kidney-related IssuesNew studies suggest hiccups might be a sign of kidney issues.7
Endocrine and Metabolic CrisesSevere hiccups can be a rare sign of big health crises.7
Dexamethasone and HiccupsA study looked at how Dexamethasone affects hiccups in 2000 patients.7

If hiccups last more than 48 hours or make life tough, don’t delay seeing a healthcare provider. They can find the cause and suggest the right treatment.3

Causes of Chronic Hiccups

Chronic hiccups happen due to many medical issues. Finding the main cause is key to stop them.2

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gut problems can trigger chronic hiccups. For example, heartburn or peptic ulcers.12 They can disturb nerve signals, causing the diaphragm to spasm often.

Neurological Conditions

Some brain and nerve diseases affect hiccups.12 Conditions like encephalitis, meningitis, or a stroke can mess up the hiccup signal.

Health issues, like diabetes or kidney problems, can also cause long-term hiccups.12 So can some drugs and overdrinking.

Doctors aim to find and treat the main issue behind chronic hiccups. This can greatly help the patient feel better.2

Impact of Chronic Hiccups

Chronic hiccups can really affect someone’s life. They can cause sleep problems and make it hard to eat.2 People may also feel sad because of hiccups that won’t stop. These hiccups can last for a long time, making someone tired and lose weight.13 They can go on for years, showing there might be a big health issue causing them.

Finding what’s really causing the hiccups is key to help. Hiccups can stop by themselves for most people. But if they don’t, getting help after two days is important.13 To stop chronic hiccups, doctors use different methods. This can include checking for health problems, giving medicines, or even surgery. Nerve treatments, numbing shots, or acupuncture can also help.

Hiccups Treatment Overview

The first step for hiccups treatment is usually home remedies and breathing techniques. These can work well for sudden hiccups.11 If hiccups keep happening or turn into a chronic problem, you might need to see a doctor. They’ll try to find out what’s causing them.2

Efforts to relieve long-term hiccups often involve drugs like baclofen, chlorpromazine, and metoclopramide.7 Making changes in your daily life can also help. This includes not drinking fizzy drinks, eating less in one go, and exploring other methods such as hypnosis and acupuncture.7

If hiccups won’t stop for more than two days, you might need stronger medicines or procedures.7 Options could be getting a shot to numb the nerve causing the hiccups or having a tiny device put in to help regulate the nerve. This is done for the most serious or long-lasting cases.7

Doctors might also order imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to look for the root of the problem. They could do lab tests to check for things like diabetes, infections, or problems with the kidneys.7 During a checkup, they could do a neurological exam. This checks your balance, muscle strength, and reflexes.7

For ongoing hiccups, trying basic lifestyle and home remedies could help. Swallowing cold water, breathing into a paper bag, or gargling ice water might give some relief. But, there’s no solid proof these work.7 If nothing else helps, you might consider alternative medicine methods like hypnosis or acupuncture.7


Hiccups are often harmless, but they can be a big deal for some.11 You can try many things at home to stop them, like special breathing or remedies. Still, if hiccups don’t go away or are really bad, see a doctor.11 The right help can make even the toughest hiccups better.

There are many ways to treat hiccups.1114 Some use drugs or special techniques like putting vinegar in your nose. Others include using sound waves to block nerves.14 Working with your doctor to find the best treatment is key. Together, you can beat hiccups and get back to a normal life.

Don’t worry too much about hiccups. There are lots of ways to deal with them.1114 Know the causes and treatments to help stop stubborn hiccups. This way, you can get better and feel well again.


What are hiccups and what causes them?

Hiccups are quick, sharp sounds you make involuntarily. These sounds happen because a part of your body, your diaphragm, moves without your control. This movement can come from many things, like eating too fast, a full stomach, or some medicines.

What are some effective breathing techniques to stop hiccups?

You can try different ways of breathing to stop hiccups. These include holding your breath and then swallowing, or breathing in a paper bag. Slow, deep breaths can also help. These actions change the carbon dioxide levels in your blood. That can stop the diaphragm spasms that create hiccups.

What are some eating and drinking remedies that may help stop hiccups?

Simple things like slowly drinking cold water or biting into a lemon can help. Swallowing dry bread or sugar is another trick. Cold water and lemon can affect a nerve that helps control your diaphragm. The dry bread or sugar gives your diaphragm something else to focus on.

Can applying pressure to specific points on the body help stop hiccups?

Applying pressure to certain body points does help some people stop hiccups. This might be gently pulling your tongue or lightly pressing on your diaphragm. It works by talking to the nerves that move your diaphragm.

How can I prevent hiccups?

You can prevent hiccups by being careful about what you eat and drink quickly, avoiding spicy or bubbly drinks, and keeping your health in check. These simple steps can help keep hiccups away.

What should I do if my hiccups are persistent or chronic?

If hiccups won’t stop, a doctor’s advice is key. They may suggest medicines or other treatments. These include therapies like acupuncture or medical procedures like nerve blocks to find relief from hiccups that won’t quit.

When should I see a doctor for hiccups?

Hiccups usually don’t last long and go away by themselves. But, if yours last more than two days or make it hard to eat, drink, sleep, or breathe, see a doctor. Long-term hiccups could signal a bigger health issue that needs to be checked.

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