It is perfectly normal to have hiccups, they happen to everyone. Getting rid of this attack on your diaphragm can be a little annoying and embarrassing. From putting a piece of paper on a baby’s forehead to drinking water or vinegar, there are many methods for getting rid of hiccups.
An anonymous reader from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, tells Health For Mzansi, that she learned about the wonders of lemon from a bartender while on a night out.
“A bartender taught me how to cure my hiccups. He handed me a handful of lemon wedges that they put in Savannas and a glass of water. He told me to suck on the lemons one by one until they lost their flavour. I had three of them and then they were gone.”
Hold your breath Mzansi!
Nthabiseng Itebogeng, from Kimberley, swears that she has tried every single cure for hiccups, but taking a deep breath and holding it for as long as she can, is the best method. “I have tried breathing into a brown bag, I have sipped on cold water with lemon and my grandmother always used to make me pull my knees to my chest,” she says. “Just hold your breath for as long as you can, it hasn’t failed me ever.”
Durban-based mom, Pearl Biyela, says the “paper on forehead” trick doesn’t work for her.
Biyela says giving her baby Gripe water or formula is effective and it works faster.
Deep breaths, meanwhile, work for Nthabiseng Motshegwa. “When I have hiccups, I take deep breaths, and obviously I cannot tell my toddler son to do the same when he has them. I frighten him or distract him so that his breathing will be altered a bit.”
Why we get hiccups
Gauteng general practitioner, Dr Busisiwe Qwabe, explains that hiccups are an involuntary contraction of your diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen muscles. The diaphragm also plays an important role in your breathing.
“They usually are a few and transient. They are caused by drinking (large amounts) of carbonated drinks or alcohol, eating large amounts of food quickly, swallowing chewing gum and gastro-oesophageal reflux.”
Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the characteristic “hic” sound.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hiccups may also be a sign of underlying medical conditions. If they persist for a few days, or even months, this can result in weight loss and exhaustion.
Qwabe adds that hiccups only are worrisome if affecting speech, eating, or sleeping. “If they persist for more than 48 hours, and continuously, medical intervention may be warranted. A clinical assessment and investigation can then be done and specifically treated. There are some medications that can be prescribed if hiccups persist.”
Are your home remedies effective?
Dr Nonjabulo Dladla, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, says that hiccups are quite normal in babies. “Even while still in the womb, they are normal. They are a sign of irritation of the diaphragm, which is a muscle below the lungs,” she says.
“Putting paper on the forehead offers tactile (touch) stimulation and helps the baby to focus on something else. It does work. But even if you don’t do anything, naturally hiccups will stop,” she explains.
Dladla also described hiccups as self-limiting meaning they can stop on their own. “Breathing into a paper covering the face, taking a break from breathing for a few seconds, or sipping some water also works.”
Here are a few methods you can try to limit hiccup discomfort:
- Holding your breath and swallowing continuously
- Breathe into a paper
- Gulp on a glass of water quickly
- Swallow a teaspoon of sugar
- Pull on your tongue
- Gargle with water