Everyone has an occasional bout of hiccups— short, sharp intakes of air caused by involuntary spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm (muscle at the base of the lungs). Although they often occur for no apparent reason, common causes include overeating, eating too fast, eating spicy or very hot or very cold food, drinking carbonated drinks, or drinking alcohol. Smoking heavily, or emotional factors such as nervousness or shock, can bring on an attack of hiccups, as can sudden change in temperature. Hiccups usually stop within a few minutes to a few hours. Bouts that last more than few days can be a sign of illnesses such as pleurisy, pneumonia, uremia, alcoholism, disorders of the stomach or esophagus disorders, and bowel diseases. Hiccups may also be associated with pancreatitis, pregnancy, bladder irritation, liver cancer or hepatitis. Surgery, tumors, and lesions may also cause persistent hiccups.
- Producing a “hic” sound that cannot be controlled.
- Sensation of feeling tight and uncomfortable in chest, abdomen or throat.
Home Remedies for Hiccups
- Sugar: A teaspoon of dry sugar taken slowly can eliminate the hiccups.
- Cold water: Quickly drink a glass of cold water.
- Ginger: For recurring hiccups, suck small pieces of fresh ginger.
- Honey and castor oil: Mix 1 teaspoon honey with 1 teaspoon castor oil. Every 2 or 3 minutes dip your index finger into the mixture and then lick your finger.
Do’s for Hiccups
- Hold your breath as long as possible, and then gradually exhale. This is the simplest remedy for hiccups.
- Take a paper bag, open it, hold the edges near your nose, and breathe in and out of it forcefully for 10 times. This will force you to inhale your own carbon dioxide, which naturally relaxes the muscles of the diaphragm.
Don’ts for Hiccups
- Avoid hot and spicy food.
- Do not overload your digestive system by over eating.
- Hiccups last longer than 24 hours.
- Getting frequent bouts of hiccups.