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10 Best Home Remedies for Hiccups

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • woman covering her mouth and making funny face after drinking wine

    Hiccups happen when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily causing your vocal cords to suddenly close and create a hiccupping sound. This usually lasts a few minutes, but sometimes hiccups can go on for months. Either way, most people want to get rid of them fast and will try anything to stop their hiccups. There are some prescription medications that work for hiccups, such as Baclophen, Gabapentin, and Chlorpromazine. However, when you’re hiccupping like crazy, a home remedy may be your easiest option.

    Which hiccup home remedies work the best? Vote up your tried and true favorites to help us decide.

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    Hold Your Breath
    mixed race boy making a face  holding breath

    This is one of the simplest hiccups home remedies. There’s even a special technique called supra-supramaximal inspiration that doctors recommend. Take a deep breath. Hold it for 10 seconds. While still holding your breath, inhale another sip of air and hold 5 seconds. Inhale one more sip and hold 5 more seconds. Then exhale. This technique works by relaxing your diaphragm, increasing carbon dioxide levels, and creating positive airway pressure that helps cure the hiccups.

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    Drink Water in a Weird Way
    unidentifiable white female filling her glass with fresh tap water

    One home remedy suggests drinking water in an uncomfortable body position. It sounds silly, but it confuses your nervous system enough to stop the diaphragm spasms that cause hiccups. What positions should you try? Drink from the sink faucet or from the opposite side of a glass with your head upside down.

    If you’re feeling adventurous, drink a paper cupful of water by picking it up with your pinky fingers while simultaneously sticking your index fingers in your ears.

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    Stretch Your Diaphragm
    senior woman taking a deep breath

    Since your spasmodic diaphragm is what’s causing your hiccups, stretching this muscle should stop them in their tracks. This stretch is easy to do. Take a very deep breath so that your belly and lungs feel completely full of air. It should feel like you can’t inhale any more air. Hold the air in for as long as you can. When you need to breathe, exhale slowly. Are your hiccups gone? If not, try this diaphragm stretch a few more times—or switch to the “hold your breath” hiccup remedy.

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    Suck on Sugar
    sugar spoon on wood

    One of the sweetest ways to stop hiccups is by sucking on a spoonful of sugar. Most recommendations suggest pouring dry sugar directly onto your tongue from a spoon or sugar packet. Then close your mouth and suck on the sugar until it dissolves. This action disrupts the nerve impulses to the vagus nerve that cause the spasms that lead to hiccups. It also changes your breathing pattern which can stop the spasms. As a bonus, it tastes good! (Just brush your teeth afterwards!)

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    Sip Pickle Juice
    Jar of pickles (pickled gherkins)

    Here’s one for the list of “it’s so crazy, it might work” remedies. Drink a small amount of dill pickle juice. It must be dill and not sweet pickles. Sour flavors are often recommended in hiccup remedies and you can try taking a sip of vinegar as an alternative. The sensation of the sour taste in your mouth disrupts the signal to your vagus nerve and hopefully interrupts your hiccup pattern long enough for them to go away.

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    Stick Your Fingers in Your Ears
    teenage girl with fingers in ears

    This home remedy for hiccups is fun and funny looking. The next time you’re hiccupping, stick your fingers in your ears for 30 seconds. You can also press your fingers into the soft area right behind your earlobes at the base of your skull. Touching your ears this way signals your vagus nerve to relax which will relax your diaphragm spasm and hopefully stop your hiccups.

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    Use Your Hands
    young african american woman laughing with hands over mouth

    Some remedies suggest that increasing the carbon dioxide levels in your body causes your brain to focus on that issue and makes it stop signaling hiccup spasms. Do this by cupping your hands over your mouth and nose and taking normal breaths until your hiccups stop. Another hands-on technique is to firmly press into the palm of one hand with the thumb of the other hand. The discomfort provides a distraction for your nervous system.

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    Hit the Hot Sauce
    closeup of bottle pouring hot sauce in spoon against white background

    Sometimes curing a bad case of the hiccups calls for a brave move. This home remedy for the hiccups will get your nervous system fired up fast. Shake a few drops of your favorite hot sauce onto a teaspoon and pour it into your mouth. You’ll quickly feel a burn on your tongue, nose and eyes. This discomfort shifts your body’s focus to what’s happening in your head and it’ll forget all about hiccupping.

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    Ice Your Hiccups
    closeup of cold compress on table

    Icing your body isn’t just for sports injuries. Tell your hiccups to cool it by holding an ice pack over your diaphragm in the area just below your rib cage and above your navel. Be sure to wrap the ice pack with a towel to protect your skin. Hold it there until your hiccups go away. The theory behind this remedy is that cooling the diaphragm stops the spasms. It may also be a mental distraction for your nervous system.

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    Put Paper Behind Your Ear
    cropped view of man holding pencil near lined sheet and crumpled papers on white background

    Distracting the signal to your vagus nerve (connects to your diaphragm muscle) is key to stopping your hiccups and this remedy does the trick. This clever mental distraction is also easy. Simply tear off a piece of paper and twist it, so you can hang it behind your ear. Your brain gets so busy wondering “why does this person have a piece of paper behind their ear?” that it forgets to hiccup. Grandmothers swear by this remedy, so it’s definitely worth a try.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 9
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