How to Stop Hiccups

Last Editorial Review: 9/26/2017

Ask the experts

Sometimes I get bouts of hiccups that are very inconvenient. How can you stop hiccups?

Doctor's response

There are numerous home cures for hiccups. You can try these methods at home to get rid of hiccups:

  • Methods that cause the body to retain carbon dioxide, which is thought to relax the diaphragm and stop the spasms which cause the hiccups:
    • Hold your breath
  • Techniques that stimulate the nasopharynx and the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach, and can decrease hiccupping:
    • Drink a glass of water quickly
    • Have someone frighten you
    • Pull hard on your tongue
    • Bite on a lemon
    • Gargle with water
    • Drink from the far side of a glass
    • Use smelling salts
    • Place one-half teaspoon of dry sugar on the back of your tongue. (This process can be repeated three times at two-minute intervals. Use corn syrup, not sugar, for young children.)

Most hiccups will stop on their own. Home remedies are generally sufficient to resolve hiccupping.

For persistent hiccups (lasting more than three hours) treatment varies, and you may need to contact your doctor.

  • A "hiccup bout" is an episode of hiccups that lasts up to 48 hours
  • "Persistent hiccups" continue more than 48 hours, up to one month
  • "Intractable hiccups" last longer than one month

A health-care professional may prescribe medications for severe, chronic hiccups. Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) is usually the first-line medication prescribed for hiccups. Other medications used to treat hiccups include haloperidol (Haldol) and metoclopramide (Reglan).

Some muscle relaxants, sedatives, analgesics, and even stimulants have also been reported to help alleviate hiccup symptoms.

Phrenic nerve surgery (the nerve that controls the diaphragm) is a treatment of last resort. This treatment is rarely performed and used only in cases that do not respond to other treatments.

Read our full medical article to learn more about hiccups causes and treatment.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

"Overview of hiccups"