Got hiccups? Try these remedies

A woman drinks a glass of water while sitting in front of a window.

When it comes to hiccups, the best-known suggestion for getting rid of them is holding your breath.

Unfortunately, you can hold your breath a long time, and chances are it still won’t end the strange spasms that results in the signature, high-pitched “hic!”

Other commonly suggested remedies for halting hiccups include breathing into a bag, drinking water or even drinking water upside down. On the not-so-common list? The Irish favor distraction by visualizing a green cow grazing in a blue field.

Two people stopping on a hike and having a belly laugh.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups can be caused by several reasons, many of which involve what you’re eating and drinking and how you’re eating and drinking it. Eat too fast or too much, drink carbonated beverages or too much alcohol, and you could find yourself with a case of the hiccups.

Hot or irritating foods and swallowing air while sucking on candy or chewing gum can cause them, too. Other times it’s more psychological, like feeling nervous or excited, being stressed or just having a good belly laugh.

The quirky little noise happens when the diaphragm, which separates the abdomen from the chest, gets irritated. This triggers a spasm, making you quickly suck in air. When the air hits your vocal cords, the cords shut, and you hiccup.

How to stop hiccups

A decrease in the carbon dioxide levels in your blood increases the chances of getting hiccups, so it helps to increase the amount of air pressure in your throat. This is why holding your breath is one of the top remedies. Breathing into a paper bag can work, too, because it interrupts the hiccup reflex.

But there are a lot of other suggestions out there to consider. There are no guarantees, of course, but they can’t hurt. Here’s a list of remedies to consider for curing hiccups.

Three glasses of crystal clear water sit on a table next to a stack of plates.

Grab a glass of water

Suggestions range from drinking a glass of water really fast to drinking it very slowly. One suggestion is to do this with super cold water, another is to do it with warm water.

People also recommend bending over and drinking water upside down from the opposite side of the cup, gargling with ice water or swallowing crushed ice.

Make a concoction

Some people put their faith in a lemon—a thin slice placed on the tongue and sucked on like candy. Others suggest taking that lemon and soaking it in angostura bitters before sucking on it.

Others say swallowing dry bread or a teaspoon of sugar will do the trick. (That raises a good question: If you swallow a dry cookie, do you get the benefit of the bread and the sugar? Worth a try!)

Prefer a liquid remedy? Try a concoction of a little hot water with two teaspoons of crushed dill seed. Or consider drinking aniseed liquor or a glass of pineapple juice.

A young woman smiles because she has hiccups

Tickle them away

Hugging your knees to your chest and holding them there for a few minutes has been effective for some. Or you can focus on pressure points, which is the basis for the suggestion to gently pull on the tip of your tongue or apply pressure on your closed eyes.

You could also try having someone tickle you while you try not to laugh. Hanging upside down is another, age-old suggestion, but doing it for too long may cause problems of its own.

How to prevent hiccups

You know what they say: Prevention is the best medicine. Try to eat slowly, avoid carbonated beverages and cut down on gum-chewing and alcohol if you’re prone to hiccups.

Even if none of these remedies work, hiccups usually go away on their own after a few minutes. There is a Guinness World Record category for the longest bout of hiccups. The title goes to Charles Osborne of Iowa. He was hiccupping for 68 years.

World records are nice, but if you have hiccups that last more than two days, it’s time to call your doctor. Looking for more healthy lifestyle tips? Check out our other blogs at

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