15 Ways to Stop the Hiccups

by Mikey Rox on 20 June 2012 14 comments
Photo: Sarah Korf

Everybody — and I do mean everybody — has the perfect way to stop the hiccups. And even though we’ve heard these remedies all our lives, every once in a while we get a new one. My personal favorite is to hold my breath while I hold my tongue until the hiccups go away. Yes, it looks stupid in public, but I swear by it because it works every time. Do you have a tried-and-true method that you like to use? Is it one of the 15 ways to stop hiccups on this list? Take a look and let me know in the comments below. (See also: 25 Healthy Changes You Can Make Today)

1. Bartender Method

You put a few drops of Angostura bitters on a lemon wedge and then suck on the wedge. You can add a bit of sugar to make this method more palatable. The success rate of this method is fairly high at 88%, according to this decades-old New York Times article.

2. Pencil Method

Grab a pencil and put it in your mouth horizontally (because the other way will probably kill you — or at least make you gag). While biting down on the pencil, try to drink a glass of water without letting the pencil fall out of your mouth. You don’t have to chug the entire glass, however. Take a few sips and wait a minute to see if this method worked. If not, repeat. 

3. Toothpick Method

These methods are getting more and more dangerous, but I suppose that’s OK if they cure your pesky hiccups. This method requires you to break a toothpick in half and put one half in a glass of water. Drink the water slowly while keeping your eye on the toothpick.

4. Upside-Down Method

Fill up a glass of water halfway and then lay upside-down — on your bed, for instance, with your head hung over the edge. Pull yourself up and take a drink from the glass of water, then return to the upside-down position. Repeat these steps several times until the hiccups dissipate.

5. Pickle Juice Method

I’m not a fan of drinking pickle juice straight out of the jar — although I’ve heard it has health benefits — but you can use it to quell the hiccups by drinking half a teaspoon every 5 to 10 seconds until the hiccups stop.

6. Lemon Method

This is a stripped-down version of the bartender method, which is probably more feasible since most people don’t have bitters in their pantry. For this, simply cut a lemon in quarters and starting sucking. Wait a minute or so after you’ve drained the first quarter to see if it worked. No need to punish your mouth anymore than you have to. If it didn’t work, try again.

7. Vinegar Method

All you have to do is drink one teaspoon of vinegar to kill the hiccups. Good thing this has health benefits, too.

8. Salt Method

I think this may be worse than the lemon method. To stop the hiccups using salt, eat one teaspoon followed by a sip of water. Then take slow deep breaths. If this doesn’t work the first time, try another method; you don’t want to ingest all that sodium when something else may work.

9. Sugar Cube Method

Same as the salt method — eat a teaspoon and wait. I wouldn’t recommend this one before bed.

10. Penny Method

Germaphobes won’t like this remedy that requires the hiccup-afflicted to lean their heads back and place a penny on their forehead. Stay in that position until the hiccups are gone.

11. Straw Method

I like this method because it’s one I’ve never heard of before. Using two straws, put one in a glass of water and the other on the outside of the glass. When you start drinking, put both straws in your mouth so you’re sucking up the water from one and air from the other. After a few big gulps, your hiccups should be done-zo. 

12. Peanut Butter Method

Finally, a tasty cure! Put a big tablespoon of peanut butter in your mouth and hold it there for five seconds. Then swallow it without chewing. For those of you with peanut allergies, this method should work with a gooey alternative like Nutella or maybe even marshmallow fluff. I kind of wish I had the hiccups right now so I could try this.

13. Tickle Method

If you’re with a friend who has the hiccups, start tickling them. Keep tickling them for 30 seconds or more. They’ll hate you for a minute, but only until they realize that their hiccups are gone.

14. Burping Method

Boys will like this method that requires them to swallow air until they burp — and repeat those steps again and again until the hiccups have left the building.

15. Counting Method

Out of all the methods on this list, this one is probably the most common. First, stick your pointer fingers out in front of you and bring them close together without touching each other. Hold your breath and start counting silently until you reach at least 30. When you start breathing again, take slow, controlled breaths.

Your turn! How do you get rid of the hiccups? Let me know in the comment below.

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Guest's picture
Julie

Because hiccups are just a spasm of the diaphragm, anything that controls the diaphragm will stop the hiccups. I find that what works best for me is to breathe out very long, very slow. Imagine that you've got a match in front of you and you need to make it flicker without blowing it out. Now keep breathing out until you feel your lungs collapsing, then keep going. Breathe out slowly until there is absolutely no air left in your lungs.

And voila! No more hiccups! One iteration is enough.

Andrea Karim's picture

I have a breathing exercise that I use where I inhale, and then push the air down toward my diaphragm to stretch it. I hold for about three seconds. Three reps, and they're gone.

Guest's picture
Juliet

I guess this would be called 'The Water Method'

I take 9 small sips of water. After each sip I say my full name (usually under my breath). I take two more sips without saying my name, making it 11 sips total. Hiccups gone. It works everytime.

Guest's picture
Monica

Eating sugar works the best for me. I worked in a physical therapy clinic and was getting them everyday for awhile, and I received and tried most of these tricks. There were so many people that would swear by the other methods and they never worked for me. I ended up keeping sugar packets at work to be sure I wasn't embarrassed for too long!

Guest's picture
Guest

The best "fail-safe" way to get rid of the hiccups. I've had Gastric Bypass, and let me tell you, you get the hiccups. Put a straw in water and while drinking it, take both hands, use your thumbs to plug your ears, and your pinky fingers to plug your nose, then drink......I kid you not! My nephew taught me that one, and people doubt me, but it works every time. He learned it from his first grade teacher. Try it. Looks funny, but when your pouch (stomach) hurts, it is SO WORTH and laughs you may get.

Guest's picture
Bryan

Here are some other ways that work for me:
- Hold your breath for as long as you can.
- Breathe inside a paper/plastic bag.
- Drink a glass of water.

Guest's picture

My friend gets the hiccups almost every weekend (probably from drinking too much beer!) but it always leaves him aggravated and annoying, and they stay for at least a half of an hour. A nursing student I know said to fill a cup to the top with water and sip it off the counter with no hands and it would work EVERY time, but it doesn't! I'm going to have to keep this list around for the next time this happens to my friend- I think I'll try the tickling one first just to torture him, and possibly make them go away too. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Kaye

Holding my breath and counting is the most common way but as a wind musician, I had a really large air capacity so holding my breath was really easy. It usually took a long time for it to start to get uncomfortable enough for me to really concentrate on holding my breath.

My mom used to say that a teaspoon full of sugar worked (your sugar cube method). When I was little I would fake the hiccups just so I could eat sugar.

Guest's picture
Nathan

1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar works everytime for us. I thought we were the only ones who did this and then I read about this girl in the States who is producing Apple Cider vinegar lollipops to cure hiccups.
Try it - I guarantee it works.

Guest's picture
lissa

This is an old folk remedy from an old English medicine book (circa1970's):
Take a tall glass (10 oz's or there about) fill with cold water. Take a teaspoon(or tablespoon if you are using a really tall glass) I use stainless steel. Put the teaspoon (or tablespoon if it's a really tall glass) in the cup.
Now drink from the cup while the teaspoon is in the water , making sure the handle of the teaspoon is hitting the outside skin of your eye, near the temple, as it sits in the water you are drinking.
Keep drinking without stopping, and the hiccups will go away.
I reckon it's the stimulation so many nerves at once that does it - swallowing, taste, the sensation of cold, pressure by the eye (highly sensitive area) that overwhelms the nerves and stops the spasms. Works for me!

Guest's picture

I had no idea there were so many way to stop hiccups. I've tried Tip 15 with some success, but I guess I have a whole list to try out now. Cool! Just gotta wait to get the hiccups again.

Meg Favreau's picture

I went to a birthday gathering this weekend, and when the birthday boy got the hiccups, I had him do #11. It totally worked!

Guest's picture

My trusted methods mirror Brian's comment from a few weeks ago, they've always been holding my breath for as long as I can, breathing inside a paper/plastic bag or if they fail, drinking a glass of water. It's good to know that there are so many others that i'd never have thought of to fall back on though!

Guest's picture
Soggydavy15

Eat bread cures it too!!!!!