Stopping Hiccups: A few techniques that work for me to stop hiccups

posted 2012-Jan-24
— updated 2012-Jan-28

I recently underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff. With this surgery comes a non-trivial amount of pain during the recovery period. With pain comes pain medication; oxycodone, ibuprofen, and naproxen, to be precise. And with oxycodone, for me, come hiccups.

For the past week I've been experiencing some serious hiccuping. I hiccup every 5-7 seconds, and I do so for hours. It's tiring, it's maddening, it's massively distracting, it's exhausting. So, I've been practicing ways to stop them. Every single one of the below techniques has succeeded at least once for me, and some of them have failed. I don't claim that these are sure-fire cures for hiccuping, but I testify that they can work.

Chug Cake Frosting

In my ninth hour of a persistent hiccup bout, I got desperate and ate a big slice of chocolate cake covered with almost an inch of sugar frosting as fast as I could. The hiccups stopped immediately, perhaps terrified of what I would do to my body next if they continued.

Success rate: 100% (I only tried it the one time :)

Slam a Bowl of Fruit

My wife has been buying me containers of mixed, pre-cut fruit (pineapples, melons, cantaloups, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries). Eating a small bowl of these as fast as possible fixes hiccups, and has not yet failed me.

Success rate: 100% (3/3)

Hold Your Breath and Swallow

Take a deep breath, about as deep as you can, and hold it. Now, make a swallowing motion (your own spit, if you have any) a few times, while holding your breath. Then breath in a little more. Swallow more. Breath in more. Swallow more.

Eventually you won't be able to swallow any more (an odd, almost panicky sensation for me). Or you won't be able to hold your breath. At that point you can exhale and find out if it worked.

Success rate: ≈75%

Stream-sip Cold Water

Get a big glass of cold water. Take a deep breath, and start sipping and swallowing the water. Never stop swallowing, but have each swallow be a small amount. Try to have a continuous stream of water trickling down your throat. Keep going until you can't hold your breath any more, or you hiccup.

Success rate: ≈65%

Eat Sugary Limes

Slice up some limes. Pour sugar on them. Eat them. Really chew and mash and swallow it all. Do it fast, frantically. I didn't eat the rinds, but did eat everything else. This has worked twice for me.

Success rate: ≈50%

Exhale Fully

Blow out all your breath. Blow out more. Blow it all out. Now hold it as long as you can before breathing again.

Success rate: ≈25%

As I said, some of the above have failed for me at one point or another. However—as I discovered last night at midnight, 5 hours into a hiccup storm that wouldn't let me sleep—you need to try them at different times. I can't just "wait out" the hiccups. During early onset they're hard to stop, but if I try an hour later I have much better success. So: don't give up! If none of the techniques work for you, wait half an hour and try again.

Edit: The hiccups went away for a few days, and then came back, and then went away, and then came back. My current theory is that the promethazine I am sometimes taking for nausea has also been helping to stop the hiccups. The hiccups' disappearance has coincided with starting up the promethazine, and their arrival was coincident with stopping taking it.

07:59PM ET

Last Tuesday, I started hiccuping about every 5 seconds. It stopped for about an hour, then got going again. This lasted until Thursday around 6pm when my doctor prescribed Baclofen 10mg and after taking only one pill, the hiccups immediately stopped. I realize this might not work for everyone, but I am very grateful it stopped mine. Hope this helps someone else.

09:38AM ET

I have a kinda weird solution for when I need to get rid of the hiccups, but it has always worked 100% of the time with me.

First, take a big mouthful of water. Next, plug your nose and ears at the same time (using your pinkies to close your nostrils and thumbs to plug your ears). Finally, while keeping your nose and ears plugged, s.l.o.w.l.y. drink your mouthful of water. When all the water is gone your hiccups will be too. Looks stabs, but believe me, it’s effective!

09:40AM ET

**looks strange

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