How to Kick Your Hiccups
They’re annoying and pretty common – but are hiccups a medical problem? While hiccups generally resolve on their own and usually do not cause serious problems, they can be disruptive, says Nurse Rose Melendez, RN.
What causes hiccups?
Nurse Rose: Hiccups occur when the diaphragm suddenly contracts involuntarily and, at the same time, the voice box contracts and the vocal folds close, which blocks the flow of air.
Hiccups can be caused by:
- Eating or drinking too fast
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating spicy foods
- Sudden change of temperature in the stomach caused by eating
- Extreme emotions
- Swallowing air while chewing gum
What’s the best way to get rid of hiccups?
Nurse Rose: Most of the time, you should just relax and wait calmly for hiccups to resolve on their own. You might also try these tips:
- Breathe in and hold the breath for about 10 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat three or four times. Repeat this 20 minutes later.
- Breathe into a paper bag – do not cover your head with the bag.
- Gargle with ice water or sip cold water very slowly.
- Press on the diaphragm gently.
When should you see a doctor?
Nurse Rose: You might want to see a doctor if you are:
- Unable to eat properly and losing weight
- Sleeping abnormally
- Displaying signs and symptoms of clinical depression
Rose Melendez, RN
Head of Emergency Department
Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.