Hiccups are one of life’s mysteries. Some people get them all the time and other hardly ever do. They don’t serve any purpose. And they usually come out of nowhere. One minute you’re carrying on a normal conversation, and the next you’re sounding as though you’ve swallowed a guppy.
Hiccups are an annoying little spasm in the diaphragm, the thin, dome-like muscle that helps you breathe. Doctors suspect that hiccups are caused by a momentary irritation of the nerves that help control the diaphragm. Hiccups can occur at any time. But they’re most common when your stomach is full or you’ve been drinking alcohol.
Hiccups aren’t painful, but they can be embarrassing.
To stop the ‘hics,’ here are some tips you may want to try.
Rub your palate . To stop hiccups, some doctors recommend gently massaging the palate (the roof of your mouth) with a cotton swab for a couple of minutes. This may help calm the nervous reflexes that are causing the spasms.
Plug your ears. Some experts have found that plugging your ears with your fingers can help stop hiccups. This appears to stimulate the vagus nerve, which may play a role in causing the spasms.
Drink some water . No, you don’t have to stand on your head at the same time. The act of swallowing helps interrupt the hiccup cycle, which sometimes stops it cold. Some people have found, in fact, that drinking from the side of the glass farthest away from you (the opposite side) is especially helpful.
Hold your breath. Taking a deep breath and holding it temporarily changes your body’s balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which will sometimes stop the hiccups. Breathing into a paper bag for a minute may have the same effect.
Breathe deeply. Doing deep breathing exercises, in which you slowly draw a lot of air into your lungs and just as slowly let it out, can help calm your whole body, including the excitable diaphragm muscle that’s causing the hiccups.
Massage your sides . According to acupressurists, there are two points just below your ribs straight down from the nipples that “control” abdominal activity. Pressing on these points for several minutes may interrupt the reflexes causing the hiccups.