Those annoying hiccups...

Hiccups happen when the diaphragm gets irritated and contracts involuntarily. 
Rabbit with hiccups
They usually last a few minutes. Two things happen during a hiccup:
  1. The diaphragm contracts and pulls in air (click here for a refresher on how the diaphragm functions)
  2. The vocal cords close to stop more air from coming in

These two actions cause the infamous sound of a hiccup. 

Hiccups are harmless (unless they last for weeks or months, at which time medical attention is recommended), but annoying. 

It’s not clear what causes the spasms of the diaphragm during hiccups. For this reason, a good remedy is to avoid possible triggers like:
  • Eating or drinking too quickly
  • Drinking carbonated beverages or alcohol
  • Eating too much
  • Stress
  • Drinking a very hot or very cold drink
  • Overstretching the neck

There’s also some anecdotal evidence pointing to increasing blood carbon dioxide — CO2 — levels to stop hiccups. An increase in CO2 may help the diaphragm to relax, stopping the spasms and the hiccups. 

After all, CO2 is not just a waste gas. Read more here.

Some recommended ways to get rid of hiccups:
  • Increase CO2 levels in the blood by:
    • Holding your breath
    • Breathing into a paper bag
    • Slowing down your breathing
  • Relax the diaphragm by stimulating the vagus nerve by:
    • Drinking a teaspoon of lemon juice
    • Letting sugar dissolve in your mouth
    • Tickling the roof of your mouth
  • Other methods:
    • Pulling your knees up to your chest — relaxing the diaphragm by putting gentle pressure on it
    • Counting backward — shifting your focus on something else
    • Getting startled — the idea behind this is like putting even more pressure on to reset your vagus nerve. This has never worked for me!
Moral of the story:
💨 Conscious breathing may help you get rid of your hiccups, while 🍴conscious eating may help avoid them!

Stay healthy, stay happy.

Comments (2)



06-13-23 11:58 AM PDT

Thanks for the info. Until I read your article, the only solution that I knew and worked for me was to swallow sugar.


Hamra Bakircioglu

06-13-23 09:23 PM PDT

Thanks for sharing, Yesim. I've never tried eating sugar, but I used to drink a few drops of lemon juice. Interesting how sugar and lemon are supposed to have the same effect on hiccups!

Leave a comment