BOD-ities: Can scaring someone really cure their hiccups?

Senior woman covering spouse's eyes

If you’ve ever been struck with the hiccups at a particularly inopportune time—like the start of a meeting or the middle of a phone call—you know how frustrating they can be. And you also likely know that there’s no tried-and-true cure to make them stop.

Sneaking up on someone with the hiccups in an attempt to scare or surprise them is just one of dozens of old wives’ tales about how to get instant relief from hiccups. But—while this is one cure that doesn’t work—there are others that do.

While none of the following remedies have been scientifically proven to halt your hiccups, they are considered to be the most effective:

  • Gargling with salt water
  • Sipping a glass of water slowly
  • Taking deep breaths or breathing into a paper bag
  • Pulling on your tongue
  • Sucking on a lemon
  • Placing a small amount of sugar on your tongue, waiting for it to dissolve and swallowing
  • Bending over and taking a sip of water from a glass (drinking backwards)

Next time you’re stuck with the hiccups, give one of these techniques a try. Find what method works best for you, and stick to it.

Although more research may be needed to determine a scientifically-backed cure for hiccups, you can help prevent them by eating small meals and avoiding carbonated beverages. Eating or drinking too quickly can lead to hiccups, so try to avoid scarfing down a snack or seltzer or soda before a big meeting if you want to keep calm.

While hiccups aren’t usually cause for concern, a case of the hiccups that comes back several times a week or after every meal could be a sign of something more serious. In cases like these, your doctor can help you determine the cause and whether or not a specific medication can help alleviate your symptoms.

An additional treatment method is osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OTM. OTM is performed by a clinician and involves gentle massage, pressure and resistance to treat a host of health issues, including muscle and joint pain, asthma and migraines.

To schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654).