How To Stop Hiccups

Everyday Illnesses Common Remedies
8 Cures For Hiccups

Hiccups are an involuntary reflex action. They occur when something irritates the vagus nerve which runs from the brain to the tummy or the phrenic nerve which runs from the neck to the tummy. Digestive problems can cause this irritation, as can a hair in your ear touching your eardrum, a sore throat or a goiter in the neck. Home treatments for hiccups usually involve 'tricking' the vagus and phrenic nerves by overwhelming them with other sensations. For example, holding your breath increases carbon dioxide levels in your blood. This triggers the brain to 'tell' the vagus nerve it has more important tasks to do than hiccupping.

Home Remedies

1. Hold Your Breath
Hold your breath for as long as you can and stick your fingers in your ears at the same time. This stimulates the branches of the vagus nerves in your ears and diaphragm into action.
2. Taste Sensation
Place a teaspoon of sugar on the back of the tongue (this is where sour is tasted) or squeeze a fresh lemon into your mouth. This will overload the nerve endings in your mouth.
3. Drink Water
Drink a glass of water, but drink it from the far side of the cup which causes you to lean forward. Ideally drink the water and then perform remedy one (breath holding/fingers in ears).
4. Tickling
Tickle the roof of your mouth with a cotton swab, this helps distract your nerve endings.
5. Blow Into A Bag
Blow into a paper bag, it is supposed to work the same way as holding your breath. Both methods increase the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. Never place a bag over your head.
6. Chest Compression
Pull your knees up to your chest or lean forward to compress your chest.
8. Peppermint
Suck on peppermint sweets or sip cooled peppermint tea. This facilitates burping by relaxing the windpipe muscles and acts as a treatment for hiccups.

Hiccup Medications

If your hiccups last more than 2 days, talk to your doctor, you may be prescribed a medication. Most medications are prescribed for 2 weeks and the dosage is gradually increased until the hiccups subside.

Chlorpromazine (antipsychotics) is the only medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating hiccups. It used to be the treatment of first choice, but because of severe side effects such as hypotension, delirium, glaucoma and urinary retention, it now only used if other drugs have failed.
Haloperidol, brand name Haldol (antipsychotic) is as effective as chlorpromazine and may be better tolerated.
Gabapentin is a newer antiepileptic drug which is also given to cancer patients to manage pain. Studies show it is effective in treating hiccups with no severe adverse effects noted.
Baclofen, brand name Lioresal (muscle relaxant) is now considered the drug of choice for treating hiccups. It can however cause dizziness and delirium, but this is more common in patients with kidney failure.
Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is sometimes given to patients to control hiccups, but it is more typically prescribed to those with ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ritalin can be habit forming.

Surgery For Hiccups

If home remedies or medications do not work your doctor may recommend an injection of an anesthetic to ‘sedate’ your phrenic nerve and stop the hiccups. Another option to is surgically implant a battery operated device which delivers small electrical impulses to stimulate your vagus nerve. This is more commonly performed to treat epilepsy, but it can also treat persistent hiccups.

How to Prevent Hiccups

1. Eat slowly, eating quickly seems to promote hiccups. Chew deliberately and avoid drinking liquids at the same time.
2. Avoid spicy foods if you are prone to hiccups. Some spices irritate the lining of the windpipe and stomach.

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