How to Get Rid of Hiccups

Hiccups can be incredibly frustrating and embarrassing, especially when they occur at work or school. If you're a parent, you might also feel worried if your baby gets hiccups and wonder how you can help them with this uncomfortable situation.

Common ways to stop hiccups fast are to try deep breathing or to hold your breath. If these tactics don't work, there are even more ways to stop hiccups.

This article explains methods to make hiccups disappear, how long they could last, how to keep them from recurring, and when to see a healthcare provider.

A woman slicing lemons

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What Causes Hiccups?

Hiccups are spontaneous contractions of the diaphragm. Hiccups are generated by the reflex caused by the vagus nerve (controls involuntary body functions) and phrenic nerves (controls the diaphragm). Common causes of hiccups include:

  • Stomach distention from carbonated drinks or large meals
  • Hot peppers
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Irritants to the gastrointestinal tract
  • Overexcitement
  • Anxiety

Stop Hiccups: 8 Ways to Get Rid of Continuous Hiccups

While hiccups are commonly laughed off, they can be distressing when experiencing them for any length of time or in an inconvenient location. Fortunately, there are quite a few cures to draw on. And the good news is, you don't have to rely on water to cure hiccups. Instead, most tried and true techniques involve stimulating the vagus nerve.

Does Scaring Someone Cure Hiccups?

While there are plenty of anecdotes of people having their hiccups cured by being scared, no scientific evidence supports this method.

Gently Press on Your Eyeballs

Gently pressing on your eyeballs can stimulate the vagus nerve and potentially stop your hiccups. Scientists discovered this technique a little over 100 years ago and prescribed its use for treating hiccups.

They even invented a tool to use for applying pressure to the eyeballs. But you don't need a tool to try this technique out at home. Simply close your eyes and use your fingers to put gentle pressure on your eyeballs.

Use the Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver involves breathing out forcefully while holding your mouth and nose closed. This, too, stimulates the vagus nerve, and researchers have found that it can sometimes stop hiccups.

In addition to stopping hiccups, the Valsalva maneuver is also used to control certain kinds of heart arrhythmia. It stimulates the vagus nerve by increasing pressure in the ears and nose.

Plug Your Ears

Another vagus nerve technique involves creating pressure changes in the ears. To use this hiccup cure, plug your ears, then create a pressure change. This is often done by swallowing water. Use a straw to sip water, or take a sip directly from the glass before plugging your ears; then swallow.

Swallow Ice

Swallowing ice or ice cream can work to stop hiccups by stimulating the vagus nerve. Swallowing small pieces of crushed ice, sucking on ice, or eating slushies, frozen smoothies, or ice cream could all work.

Increase Blood Carbon Dioxide

Holding your breath or breathing into a paper bag to stop hiccups work by increasing the blood's carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. To use the paper bag method, form the opening of the paper bag (like a lunch bag) around your mouth and breathe in and out for about a minute. Inhale, and hold your breath for a few seconds.

Suck on a Lemon Wedge

Citrus and other sour foods stimulate the vagus nerve. For this method, try sucking on a lemon wedge. Dip it in sugar first to cut the sourness and prevent irritation to your throat. If the sugar-dipped lemon doesn't work, swallow dry sugar by itself or put sugar under your tongue.

Pull on Your Tongue

Pulling on your tongue stimulates the vagus nerve. This simple technique could be just the trick to stop hiccups. Grab the end of your tongue and gently tug downward with a clean hand.

Curl up in a Ball

Finally, pulling your knees to your chest puts pressure on the diaphragm, which may cause it to stop contracting. To use this technique to stop hiccups, lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, lace your fingers under your knees and pull your knees toward your chest. Hold for up to a minute.

How Long Could Hiccups Last?

Hiccups are typically short-lived. They tend to come on suddenly and leave as abruptly as they came. Hiccups usually last for just a few minutes. However, hiccups can sometimes last longer and be recurrent or chronic.

Most cases of hiccups are acute and last less than 48 hours. Hiccups that last more than 48 hours are considered persistent and those lasting more than a month are intractable.

How to Keep Hiccups From Returning

To prevent hiccups from recurring, consider doing the following:

  • Avoid or limit carbonated drinks.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  • Avoid triggers like spicy foods.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.
  • If you smoke, quit smoking.
  • Manage anxiety.

Hiccups may be more likely to recur within a short period, perhaps a day or so.

Can't Stop Hiccups: When to See a Healthcare Provider

Although hiccups can be frustrating, you can't die from hiccups. Chronic hiccups can sometimes be a symptom of another health condition, indicating problems with your diaphragm, bowel diseases, esophagus or stomach disorders, some cancers, and hepatitis. If your hiccups last longer than a few days, make an appointment with a healthcare provider.


Hiccups are common and usually short-lived. However, most people want them to stop immediately when they occur. The quickest way to stop hiccups is to stimulate the vagus nerve. Most hiccup cures, like pressing your eyeballs, pulling on your tongue, sucking on a lemon, plugging your ears, the Valsalva maneuver, and swallowing ice, rely on vagus nerve stimulation.

You can prevent the recurrence of hiccups by avoiding triggers like carbonated beverages, large meals, and spicy foods.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.