13. A Cure for Hiccups

Hiccups are simple enough to explain: Your diaphragm (the major muscle involved in breathing) goes into spasm. Hiccups are generally harmless and don’t last very long. Luckily, there’s no shortage of hiccup cures and better still, most of them work (although some baffle medical science). A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 1 teaspoon of ordinary table sugar, swallowed dry, cured hiccups immediately in 19 out of 20 people (some of whom had been hiccuping for as long as six weeks). If this doesn’t stop the hiccups right away, repeat it three times at two-minute intervals. (For young children, use 1 teaspoon of corn syrup.)

Other popular folk remedies worth trying include:

  1. Hold your tongue with your thumb and index finger and gently pull it forward.

  2. With your neck bent backward, hold your breath for a count of ten. Exhale immediately and drink a glass of water.

  3. Breathe into and out of a paper (not plastic) bag.

  4. Swallow a small amount of finely cracked ice.

  5. Massage the back of the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab. A finger works equally well.

  6. Eat dry bread slowly.

  7. Drink a glass of water rapidly. (Note: Young children should drink a glass of milk slowly.)

Frequently occurring or prolonged hiccups may indicate other health problems, like stomach distension or a heart attack, both of which call for immediate medical care.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems