The only thing worse than dropping your phone on a night out (and praying it doesn’t crack) is getting the hiccups. Hiccups are always annoying but there seems to be something that makes them more intense after a couple of drinks. We’re talking full-body hiccups that leave you incapable of completing a sentence.
More and more I find myself getting these reoccurring spontaneous hiccup blitzes and can’t help but feel not only annoyed, but embarrassed. I know that I am not “shwasted” but my mind runs back to childhood cartoons that show every drunk stumbling through the room with a case of high-pitched hiccups.
GIF courtesy of tumblr.com
So am I actually drinking myself into the hiccups? Actually, yes. A hiccup is a result of a spasm in the diaphragm which sits right between the stomach and lungs. The spasms are caused by an irritation to the diaphragm. These irritations can come from either eating too quickly, experiencing anxiety or excitement, or swallowing too much air, usually from carbonation.
So yes, chugging that beer or gulping that Jack and Coke may cause an intense attack right when you’re about to clinch the beer pong table. We all have our go to hiccup-hack, but here are some of the most successful and sensible solutions to accomplish when you are a few rounds in.
- Find a Pressure Point
- Make Yourself Cough or Sneeze
- Cover Your Mouth
- Distract yourself
- Sit and Bring Your Knees to Your Chest
- Suck on a Lemon
- Hiccups: why do we hiccup?
- What are hiccups?
- Causes of hiccups
- What your doctor can do for you
- Lance Strate’s Blog Time Passing
- Getting the message: how alcohol advertising impacts on young sports fans
- Why Do I Get the Hiccups When I Drink?
- Cause of Hiccups?
- Why Do You Hiccup After Drinking Too Much? There’s A Scientific Reason For This Annoying Side Effect
- Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Hiccups?
- What Causes Hiccups?
- Does Alcohol Contribute?
- This silly trick my mom taught me is the only hiccup cure that’s ever worked for me
- Coping with cancer
- Things to try for mild hiccups
- Treatment for more severe hiccups
- How to get rid of hiccups
- 1. Breathe into a paper bag (don’t put it on your head)
- 2. Pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward
- 3. Sip ice cold water
- 5. Drink upside down
- But remember…
- 6. Swallow some granulated sugar
- 7. Bite on a lemon
- 8. or taste vinegar
- 9. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter
- 10. Holding your breath
- 11. Inhaling – the four step method
- 12. Imagine breathing in a figure eight
- 13. Stretch the diaphragm
- 14. Rotation method
- 15. Swallow air until your burp
- 16. Cough
- 17. Get someone to tickle or scare you
- 18. Bite down on a pencil
- 19. ‘African Way’
- Is there medical treatment?
- What NOT to do
- Why we get hiccups
Drink a Glass of Water Quickly
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
This helps put your abdominal muscles to work and holds a distraction for them. This may or may not be obvious, but quickly drinking a glass of water will not solve the problem. It’s also suggested to plug your ears while drinking through a straw, go figure.
Find a Pressure Point
GIF courtesy of giphy.com
The easiest one to locate is the philtrum which sits in the groove between your nose and your mouth. Holding down on the point for 20-30 seconds may end the hiccup battle.
Make Yourself Cough or Sneeze
GIF courtesy of giphy.com
This again will use your abdominal muscles to distract from the spasms. Remember to excuse yourself from a conversation before you start openly coughing on someone.
Cover Your Mouth
GIF courtesy of giphy.com
Cover your mouth and nose but don’t hold your breath. Continue with a normal breathing rhythm and supposedly the increase in carbon dioxide will stop your hiccups.
GIF courtesy of photobucket.com
This has always worked the best for me. This earns extra points by also doubling as a form of entertainment for the party while you recount the last time you saw a squirrel, attempt the ABCs backwards, or gargle some water.
Sit and Bring Your Knees to Your Chest
GIF courtesy of giphy.com
By changing your sitting position you are compressing the diaphragm a little which allows you to control the spasms more easily.
Suck on a Lemon
GIF courtesy of prince.org
The intense sour taste causes a similar reaction that scaring an individual would have. We like this option better because whenever you tell a friend to scare you they miserably fail.
Hiccups: why do we hiccup?
Most of us have experienced hiccups, an uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing, but usually short-lived experience. But sometimes hiccups persist for a long period of time and can be a sign of serious underlying disease.
What are hiccups?
Hiccups are bursts of inspiratory (breathing in) activity. The muscles we use when we take in a breath are the intercostal muscles situated between the ribs, and the diaphragm — a sheet of muscle below the lungs. A hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, which is followed by the sudden closure of your vocal cords – this produces the characteristic hiccup sound.
Causes of hiccups
Hiccups are very common and most people will have hiccups at some time. Most simple cases of hiccups come after eating or drinking too much or too quickly. The stomach, which is situated right below the diaphragm, becomes distended and irritates it. This will cause the diaphragm to contract, as it does when we breathe in.
Carbonated fizzy drinks can cause hiccups, and alcohol is another common cause of hiccups. Excess smoking may also cause hiccups. Hot and spicy food, such as curry, may trigger hiccups.
Sometimes hiccups will occur because of a disturbance to the nerve pathways from the brain to the muscles involved. This explains why hiccups may occur with temperature changes or emotional situations. It is also the reason that a sudden shock can sometimes abolish an attack.
Persistent hiccups may signify problems in the brain (such as stroke, tumours, infections or multiple sclerosis), spinal cord or any of the structures around the diaphragm or chest wall. So chronic hiccups that last days, months or even years, may indicate serious underlying disease and should be investigated.
Everyone has their own pet remedy for curing hiccups. Simply holding your breath is often effective for short-term bouts of hiccups, but usually they will go away of their own accord. Some people find that touching or gently lifting their uvula (the dangly structure at the back of the throat) with a cotton bud or similar will stop a bout of hiccups, but be aware that this will stimulate the gag reflex.
Other methods include drinking ice cold water, swallowing something sweet like a spoonful of sugar, or sitting down, while leaning forward and pulling your knees up to compress your chest.
If you have hiccups that have gone on for 2 days or longer, or are having recurrent bouts of hiccups, you should see a doctor to find out if there is an underlying cause that needs treating.
What your doctor can do for you
If you are having problems with hiccups, your doctor can:
- rule out serious underlying diseases that provoke hiccups;
- prescribe antispasmodics;
- treat underlying diseases that may be causing hiccups; or
- refer you to a surgeon who may recommend surgery on the nerves supplying the diaphragm, if you have severe or persistent hiccup attacks.
Lance Strate’s Blog Time Passing
Did you know that little Doogie Howser, MD is old enough to drink? Well, of course, it’s been many years since that sitcom first aired, back in September of 1989, and many years since it last went off the air, over two decades ago, in July of 1993. Since then, the star of the show, Neil Patrick Harris, has gone on to bigger and better things, and emerged as a major comedic talent.
But, it seems, he’s not too big to shill out for the advertising industry, and in particular for beer commercials. Perhaps you’ve seen his recent starring role as a pitchman for Heineken Light beer?
Hey, there’s no question that beer commercials have a long history of being some of the most amusing forms of advertising you can find on American television. But that doesn’t change the fact that the product they’re selling, alcoholic beverages, is associated with negative effects that are far from funny or entertaining.
And as you may know, back in 1987 I co-authored a research report based on an analysis of the myths and cultural meanings of beer commercials: Myths, Men & Beer: An Analysis of Beer Commercials on Broadcast Television, 1987, by Neil Postman, Christine Nystrom, Lance Strate, Charles Weingartner. You can download a scanned PDF of the publication from ERIC, just clickhere. I’m not sure exactly how many print copies were distributed and sold by the research sponsor, the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, but I know it numbers in the tens of thousands, at least. I also published several articles and chapters on the subject as a follow-up, one of the lesser known ones can be found online here.
Anyway, getting back to this particular commercial, let me put aside the way that the ad associates beer with a disregard for rules, and how that relates to the American cultural myth of masculinity, with rules seen as a challenge to be overcome rather than a structure to honor and work within, and how the romantic notion of being a rule-breaker may be a staple of hero narratives, but is particularly problematic when it comes to concerns such as underage drinking, and drinking and driving. Instead, I want to focus on the fact that this ad brings up the question of why is it that you never see anyone actually drinking beer in television commercials? The ad seems to suggest that it is due to regulations, which implies federal legislation passed by Congress, or policy adopted by the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission. Many people out there seem to believe this is the case, and see it as another case of unwarranted and unwanted government intrusion on the private sector.
And they’re wrong! The government has nothing to do with it, neither the executive or legislative branches. As it turns out, the rule originates with the broadcasting industry. Now, let me note that this question was brought to my attention by Jon Greenberg, a staff writer for PunditFact, which according to their website,
is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media.
We define a pundit as someone who offers analysis or opinions on the news, particularly politics and public policy. One can engage in punditry by writing, blogging or appearing on radio or TV. A pundit is not an elected official, not a declared candidate nor anyone in an official capacity with a political party, campaign or government.
PunditFact is funded in part by $625,000 in grants over two years from the Ford Foundation and the Democracy Fund. Seed money for the project was provided by craigconnects.
So, anyway, I was one of many sources that Jon contacted to check up on the claim made in the beer ad, which was evaluated as being “mostly true” (meaning not entirely): A “regulatory thing” means you can’t show someone drinking beer on camera. You can click on the link to see the article in its entirety (no, I’m not quoted in it, but it’s still worth a look). It begins with a discussion of the Heineken ad, and then poses the question:
But we wondered about the director’s claim that a “regulatory thing” stops people from drinking beer in commercials. We’ve seen plenty of beer commercials and just always assumed that someone was drinking at some point.
The fact is, however, ad makers successfully are getting us to see more than is on screen.
In case you were wondering, it’s not the long arm of government that’s stopping people from a sip of sudsy brew. A press officer at the Federal Communications Commission, the body in charge of decency and other rules for broadcasters, said FCC rules are silent on drinking on camera.
“Congress has not enacted any law prohibiting broadcast advertising of any kind of alcoholic beverage, and the FCC does not have a rule or policy regulating such advertisements,” she said, citing the agency’s website.
If there’s an iron fist, it belongs to the broadcasters.
Tara Rush, senior director of corporate communications at Heineken USA, said the rules come from TV networks.
“This is a regulation with the actual TV networks,” Rush said. “It’s a long-standing rule.”
The broadcasters’ trade group, the National Association of Broadcasters, has no policy itself, but a spokesman sent us articles that describe how each network is free to set its own standards and, as it stands, when it comes to beer, they frown on public displays of ingestion.
The Heineken ad alludes to this. Near the end, the director talks about network execs getting in a room to agree on a set of rules.
Now, speaking of the NAB, what I did find in response to Jon’s query was an article entitled Ad of the Day: Neil Patrick Harris Doesn’t Get Why He Can’t Drink Heineken Light on TV But here’s the explanation, if you’re interested, by David Griner, which appeared in Adweek magazine. And Griner provides a somewhat different explanation of the NAB’s role in the matter:
While it’s not really explained in the ad, there’s no law keeping Harris—or anyone else—from drinking a beer on camera. The United States government doesn’t actually limit alcohol marketing at all, or as the FCC notes, “Congress has not enacted any law prohibiting broadcast advertising of any kind of alcoholic beverage, and the FCC does not have a rule or policy regulating such advertisements.”
The brewing industry’s Beer Institutehas its own voluntary guidelines, and they’re generally OK with showing beer drinking, too: “Although beer advertising and marketing materials may show beer being consumed (where permitted by media standards), advertising and marketing materials should not depict situations where beer is being consumed rapidly, excessively, involuntarily, as part of a drinking game, or as a result of a dare.”
However, several broadcast networks continue to stick to a long-expired portion of the Television Code that prohibited showing alcohol being consumed. (Thus the ad’s reference to “network execs in a room somewhere.”)
Also, Canada has a bevy of beverage restrictions, including a rule against showing “scenes in which any such product is consumed, or that give the impression, visually or in sound, that it is being or has been consumed.” As you can imagine, other countries have their own rules, too, making a beer ad with global reach a truly hamstrung affair.
So in short, yeah, it’s complicated. And it’s not too likely to change anytime soon.
So, there is a historical connection to the NAB, and specifically to its Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters, one that continues to influence industry policy. Unfortunately, the link provided by the Adweek article is to a Wikipedia entry that does not specifically reference the policy on showing people consuming alcohol on camera, and I was not able to find a copy of the Code itself through a cursory search online. But I do find Griner’s explanation to be reasonable and persuasive, and kudos as well to Canada for its contribution towards keeping the advertisers in check.
I should add that Griner also suggests that, “we can probably expect a similar gag to come around every few decades,” reminding us that back in the 80s a similar commercial aired, featuring Paul Hogan, aka Crocodile Dundee, hawking Foster’s:
Returning to the PunditFact piece, here’s the response from the beer industry’s spokesperson:
A spokeswoman for The Beer Institute, the voice of brewers and distributors, told us their members are loath to take chances with network policy.
“If you’re putting an ad together, you will be as conservative as possible so you know it will get past all the networks,” said Megan Kirkpatrick, director of communications at the Institute.
Kirkpatrick said the brewers have no desire to stir things up and risk stirring a cry for a new law.
“The fact that it is self-regulated now, that’s not something brewers would want to put in jeopardy,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s the way they have operated for decades. You show a lot of people enjoying a football game or enjoying a baseball game but you don’t show any consumption. I don’t think you’re going to see that change.”
Rush left us with this tantalizing thought about the long-standing rule.
“Some networks are now beginning to change it,” Rush said.
Note that Kirkpatrick’s assurances are not backed up by the official guidelines of the Beer Institute, as noted in the Adweek article. And while the PunditFact piece ends on a lighthearted note—”We doubt Heineken is hoping for a quick shift. If commercials start showing people sipping away, that Heineken ad will be about as enticing as, well, old beer.”—based on past history I think we can assume that the beer industry would love to see the broadcasting industry’s policy altered, and eradicated.
And maybe you’re saying, what’s the big deal, anyway? My response is that alcohol is a special kind of product, which is why the United States Department of Justice has a special Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There are laws regulating drinking age and prohibiting drunk driving. We expect individuals to refrain from drinking while on the job in most occupations, and in a variety of other situations that require a measure of seriousness and decorum, not to mention concentration and coordination.
And we impose few limits on communication in the United States, in keeping with our First Amendment, but we do impose some on commercial speech, such as truth in advertising, and the ban on tobacco commercials. There are very few limits imposed on alcohol advertising, however, too few in my opinion. This isn’t about bringing back Prohibition, it’s simply about asking for a reasonable amount of restraint. In holding to this one truly modest rule that says you can’t show someone drinking on camera, broadcasters are acknowledging the fact that there is a significant difference between alcohol and toothpaste, between alcohol and smart phones, between alcohol and bottled water. I for one hope that our broadcasters will be able to not only hold their liquor, but also hold the line.
And I don’t know about Neil Patrick Harris, but I am pretty confident that a certain Doogie Howser, MD, would agree…
Americans are drinking less beer, encouraged by trends like Dry January. But brewers like Molson Coors Beverage and Heineken are trying to use the monthlong sobriety challenge to promote their beer.
Dry January started in the United Kingdom in 2013. Since then, the movement has spread worldwide, including the United States, where overall alcohol consumption continues to fall. Over one-fifth of Americans participated in Dry January in 2019, according to Nielsen.
And some consumers, dubbed “sober curious,” are also making an effort to reduce their alcohol intake during the other 11 months of the year.
That shift, as well as competition from other kinds of alcohol, is hitting beer companies.
U.S. beer volumes declined by 1.6% in 2018, according to data from IWSR. The firm, which tracks alcohol trends, found that cider and hard seltzers are taking share from beer. Younger consumers are drinking less overall, including beer.
But all hope is not lost for brewers. No- and low-alcohol beer is the fifth-fastest growing type of beer in the U.S., according to Nielsen. According to IWSR data, the most frequent consumers of low- and no-alcohol drinks are between 21 to 44 years old — an age bracket that mostly includes millennials, with some Generation X consumers — and male.
Molson Coors is promoting its low-alcohol beer Miller64 through an advertising campaign, starring Nicholas Braun of “Succession,” asking consumers to participate in “Dry-ish January.” Miller64, which relaunched in September, is aimed at health-conscious drinkers with its low-calorie count.
The campaign comes as Molson Coors tries to adapt to consumers’ shifting tastes — even by changing the company name. In January, the company’s name changed from Molson Coors Brewing Co. to Molson Coors Beverage Co. It also announced a restructuring effort that will result in 400 to 500 lost jobs.
Heineken launched its nonalcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0, in the U.S. in January last year. This year, the brewer is giving away cans of the alcohol-free beer in its January Dry Pack. Customers can claim the free 31-pack at januarydrypack.com.
Anheuser-Busch InBev tested Budweiser 0.0 in certain U.S. markets in 2019. The drink launched in India last year, but the company has not shared any plans to introduce it stateside. Anheuser-Busch’s nonalcoholic portfolio also includes O’Doul’s, the best known alcohol-free beer in the U.S.
Getting the message: how alcohol advertising impacts on young sports fans
Evidence that even primary school children can match sports with their sponsors is feeding into renewed efforts to remove alcohol promotion from broadcasts and live games.
Sport is a national passion. It unites Australian families and friends as they watch their favourite teams battle it out on the field. But while the players and their fans compete for glory, with health and fitness unabashedly on show, there is another game being played out between sponsors and spectators.
Of particular concern to health experts is the exposure that children have to thousands of messages from alcohol sponsors during both live and televised sporting events.
Loopholes in regulations that govern what can be shown on television, and when, mean that children of all ages are being exposed to alcohol-related promotions while watching sports broadcasts. Sometimes it’s a catchy 30-second commercial; often it’s in the more subtle form of alcohol-branded logos on sports uniforms or signage around a stadium.
New recruits the prime target
“There are two things alcohol brands are trying to do,” says Michael Thorn, Chief Executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, the organisation behind the Booze Free Sport campaign.
“One is to prime young people to become drinkers, because this is an industry that would die out if they couldn’t recruit new drinkers, and the second, more obvious thing is to recruit drinkers to their brand. They use sports as a Trojan horse. They’re invoking and appropriating the values, aspirations and interests people have about elite sports to induce people to their brand, and kids have no say in it.”
Studies show that the earlier children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the earlier they start drinking. If they’re already drinking, the more likely they are to drink at hazardous levels.
“Our research shows that kids who otherwise might not have even been thinking about drinking start thinking to themselves ‘is this the product for me?’ when they see alcohol advertisements.”
Why Do I Get the Hiccups When I Drink?
Having one too many can have a slew of embarrassing consequences: stumbling out of a bar; raiding the fridge; and sometimes, a mean case of the hiccups. (Check out all the Body Altering Affects of Alcohol.)
But why can happy hour leave you gasping uncontrollably? To understand that you have to understand what a hiccup is: “an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm which typically results in expulsion of air,” says Richard Benya, M.D., a gastroenterologist and the director of the Loyola University Health System.
Your diaphragm is a thin sheet of muscle separating your chest cavity and your stomach, explains Gina Sam, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. When you take a deep breath, it contracts. When you’ve got the hiccups, though, it spasms, she says. “The intake of your breath is suddenly stopped by the closing of the vocal cords.”
Oftentimes, this is because the vagus nerve-which runs from your brain to your abdomen by way of organs like your esophagus-becomes irritated, says Sam. Culprits of this irritation: swallowing too much air (ahem, carbonated drinks); eating a huge meal (your stomach can extend, rubbing up against your diaphragm, says Benya); piping hot beverages; periods of emotional stress; and yep: booze. (Ahem: 8 Signs You’re Drinking Too Much.)
“It could be that alcohol promotes acid reflux and that could be irritating the esophagus,” says Sam. When you drink, alcohol also gets into your brain and can trigger the vagus nerve, irritating it, says Benya.
But while annoying, a pesky case of the hiccups is usually normal.
“It’s when they become persistent-lasting for a day, 48 hours, or a week-that we become concerned,” says Sam, who adds that this could be a sign of issues in the brain, cancer, infection, or stroke. “Patients who have had kidney problems or any irritation in the head, neck, or chest areas can also have the hiccups,” she says.
And as for stopping ’em? “Hiccups are pretty involuntary,” says Benya. So you might not have great luck kicking them to the curb. (Note: If you’re suffering from persistent yelps, medicines called calcium channel blockers can help.)
Of course, we won’t judge: Hold your breath, swallow a teaspoon of sugar, or plug your nose (or is it your ears…?). Just be warned-you might wind up simply looking as silly as you sound! (And on that note, Why Does One Person Always Get Too Drunk at the Holiday Party?)
- By Cassie Shortsleeve
Listen to this post
Homer, for as long as I’ve been watching The Simpsons, is almost always drunk. However, have you ever wondered why – other than the obvious slurring, impulsiveness and burping – does Homer break into hiccups? Hiccups are so indelibly associated with drunkenness that an actor portraying a drunk might forget to burp, but never to feign the hiccups. So… why does alcohol cause them?
Cause of Hiccups?
The respiratory system is like a common air pump. Situated below the lungs is a flat, tile of muscle called the diaphragm, which descends or loosens when we inhale, enabling the lungs to expand and draw in air. The diaphragm then ascends or tightens when we exhale, forcing the lungs to contract and release that air. It is, of course, the brain that pulls and pushes on the pump. The brain sends signals through the nerves connected to the diaphragm to either move upwards or downwards.
However, due to reasons still unknown, the brain will sometimes abruptly force the diaphragm down, causing the lungs to draw in a lot of air very rapidly. As a large volume of air rushes in, the sudden change in pressure inside our throats causes a narrow part of it – the larynx or the voice box – to reflexively clench or snap shut. It is this temporary clenching that produces the characteristic “hic” sound. Basically, a hiccup is the result of an involuntary contraction or spasming of the diaphragm that promptly stifles your intake of air.
While we don’t know the exact reason why the brain, in a capricious fit, forces the diaphragm to move down, we have narrowed our speculation to a few causes that seem most likely to trigger it. These include an irritation of the vagus nerve — the nerve that runs from your brain to your abdomen via organs like the esophagus — an expansion of the stomach due to an excess of gas, movement of stomach acid, changes in stomach temperature and finally, heightened emotions, such as elation and fear.
Credit: Yuliya Evstratenko/
Note that alcohol can lead to almost all of these proposed causes: alcohol is fundamentally an acid, it irritates the vagus nerve, as it aggravates the esophagus (the burning and writhing you experience after a shot). Obviously, when the acid streams down and reaches your stomach, the content of acid (HCl) in your gut increases, consequently increasing its temperature.
Furthermore, alcoholic beverages like beer and champagne are carbonated, meaning they are infused with a gas, namely, carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide will expand the stomach and therefore probe the diaphragm above. This excess gas will not only make you profusely burp, but also trigger a vicious episode of the hiccups.
This whiskey tastes like I’m not going to work tomorrow. Credit:Maggee/
The odds of an onset of hiccups are worsened when the beverage is gulped, since you will not only be gulping alcohol, but also a large volume of air. This sudden increase disrupts your breathing pattern and, thus, the functioning of your diaphragm.
Unless, of course, you’re James Bond who, despite being an inveterate alcoholic, never “yelps” or “hics” while seducing gorgeous women or trash-talking his arch enemies.
- Harvard Health
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY RUBY YEH.
You probably already know the signs that tell you you’ve had a few too many drinks (ahem, texting your ex). But the one that always sneaks up on you without warning has to be the dreaded hiccups. Turns, there’s a reason why we’re prone to hiccups when we’re drunk.
Related: Namaste In Shape With These Easy Yoga Poses
Of course, you can get hiccups from drinking anything too quickly. But, as Gina Sam, M.D., told Shape, drinking alcohol is particularly hiccup-inducing, since “alcohol promotes acid reflux and that could the esophagus.” This could, in turn, irritate the vagus nerve within the esophagus, which triggers those dreaded hiccups. Something else to keep in mind: If your libation of choice is beer, champagne, or anything carbonated, the additional air could also cause hiccups, which is yet another reason to opt for wine.
Related: Live A Healthier Life, Starting… NOW!
If you wind up with a nasty case of hiccups, there are plenty of suggested cures out there, both of the scientific and anecdotal variety. Dr. Sam also said that a case that lasts longer than a day or two is cause for alarm — so if you’re concerned, call your doc.
Hey, if all else fails, you could give J Lawr’s trick a try.
By Sara Coughlin
Related: The Worst Four-Letter Word? DIET
Why Do You Hiccup After Drinking Too Much? There’s A Scientific Reason For This Annoying Side Effect
There are plenty of ways to tell if you’ve overdone it on the drinks — slurring, calling all your friends (or worse, your ex), the list goes on. But one of the most annoying, surefire signs that you’ve had one too many? Hiccuping. Why do you hiccup after drinking too much? At some point or another, all of us have succumbed to the dreaded attack of the hiccups after too many beers — and it turns out, there’s a specific reason for that.
According to Shape, drinking too much alcohol makes you particularly prone to hiccups because it promotes acid reflux, and can aggravate the esophagus. It can also exacerbate the vagus nerve, which then causes those irritating bouts of non-stop hiccuping. Drinking large amounts of carbonated alcohol, like beer, champagne, and other bubbly products, is also further irritating, as you’re swallowing extra air.
It’s not just alcohol that causes this reaction — eating a huge meal that leaves you too full, drinking super hot beverages, and periods of intense emotional stress can do the same.
Unfortunately, while hiccups are annoying, they’re usually normal. It’s only if they persist for a full day or two or longer that it should become a cause for concern.
As for trying to stop the hiccups? If you’re drinking, you can try avoiding carbonated drinks, and opt for wine instead. There’s also the standard tricks, like drinking a lot of water, holding your breath, and covering your ears. But the truth is, hiccups are pretty involuntary, so your best bet is just avoiding the triggers altogether. That might mean sticking to just one drink at happy hour — but hey, at least you’ll be able to get through a sentence without a hic.
For more great ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.
Bustle on YouTube
Image: Joshua Resnick/Fotolia; Giphy
Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Hiccups?
Most regular drinkers have experienced hiccups from time to time while enjoying some alcoholic beverages, and the hiccuping town drunk falling off his barstool is an old trope, but even non-drinkers get them from time to time. But does drinking alcohol cause hiccups, or is it just a coincidence?
What Causes Hiccups?
Known medically as synchronous diaphragmatic flutters, hiccups occur when a sudden contraction of the diaphragm occurs at the same time as a contraction of the larynx, causing a temporary blocking of air intake.Research has found that there are multiple causes for a fit of hiccups including:
- An irritation of the phrenic nerve.
- Expansion of stomach, often caused by gas pushing against the diaphragm or overeating.
- Movement of stomach acid.
- A sudden change in stomach temperature.
- Fizzy drinks or spicy foods.
- Psychological factors including anxiety and stress.
- Medications including opiates, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.
- Medical conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, acid refulx, hyper and hypoglycemia.
Of these causes, stomach expansion, movement of stomach acid, and irritation of the phrenic nerve are the most common. Fizzy drinks and spicy foods are common causes as well, but some people are far more susceptible than others.
Does Alcohol Contribute?
While alcohol itself does not directly cause hiccups, the consumption of alcohol can indeed lead to some of their most common triggers. Indeed, drinking alcohol often causes expansion of the stomach and movement of stomach acid, especially when one chugs or drinks at an accelerated rate. Alcohol can also cause an irritation of the phrenic nerve.
Alcohol’s ability to induce hiccups is exacerbated even further when one is drinking carbonated beverages such as beer or champagne, or using a soft drink as a mixer. The carbonation not only can cause hiccups alone, but multiplies alcohol’s effect on stomach acid and stomach expansion.
Bottom Line: Drinking alcohol can cause hiccups, and is more likely to when drinking it with carbonated beverages or drinking at a faster rate.
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When it comes to getting rid of those pesky little diaphragm spasms we call hiccups, it seems everyone and their mother—literally—has a tried-and-true method. While some make sense from a medical perspective, others are fairly unconventional.
And while hiccups almost always go away on their own, they’re beyond irksome, so we’ll take any help we can get when it comes to stopping them as quickly as possible—even if slurping water while hanging upside down feels a little odd.
Read on for 15 methods people swear by to get rid of hiccups, and—as annoying as they might be—thank your lucky stars you don’t have Charles Osbourne’s problem—an Iowa man who hiccuped continuously for 68 years, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
1. Gulp water without breathing in.
An effective method to curing hiccups: Take seven big swallows of water without taking a breath.
2. Light a match.
Some swear that blowing out a match and dropping it in a glass of water takes away hiccups when you drink it.
3. Breathe in and swallow.
Breath in as much as you can, then—without letting any air out—swallow. When you can’t swallow anymore, exhale slowly.
4. Plug your ears.
Who knew plugging your ears with your fingers whole sucking down a glass of water with a straw gets rid of hiccups?!
5. Lemon and bitters.
If you can stand it, eat the inside of a lemon wedge doused with Angostura bitters. Though unpleasant, this remedy—discovered by a former bartender and endorsed by a doctor—has a high success rate. If you really can’t stomach the sour lemon, sprinkle on some sugar.
6. Use pickle juice.
Try to gulp a half a teaspoon of salty pickle juice every few seconds until your hiccups subside. Don’t have any? A spoonful of salt will do the trick.
7. Drink upside down.
You’ve definitely heard this one: Drink a glass of water while either laying upside down over the side of a couch or bed, or bending over.
This silly trick my mom taught me is the only hiccup cure that’s ever worked for me
Any good hiccup cure starts with a glass of water. sebra/
- When it comes to a cure for hiccups, there’s no definite consensus.
- My mom taught me the “drinking water upside down” trick (drinking water from the opposite side of the glass), and it works for me without fail.
- One doctor says that this method works because it forces “your abdomen muscles to contract,” which stops hiccups.
Holding your breath. Getting scared. Downing a spoonful of sugar. We all have our (mostly silly) method for curing hiccups. But whenever a friend or colleague has a bad case of the hiccups, I tell them about the “drinking water upside down” method that my mom taught me when I was little.
It works every time.
But first, a little background.
What are hiccups anyway?
Even though scientists can’t seem to come to a consensus as to how to treat these annoying auditory spasms, at least we know what they are. Hiccups are referred to in the medical community as “singultus,” and happen when the diaphragm and intercostal muscles between your ribs suddenly contract, according to Dr. Tyler Cymet, head of medical education at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
This is followed by your glottis — the space between your vocal chords in your larynx — snapping shut, which causes the characteristic “hic” sound.
How do you drink water upside down?
Lean forward and drink from the opposite side of your cup. Sarah Jacobs
This choice method (thankfully) doesn’t involve pouring water over your head. You just pour a glass of water, move your head forward and downward over the glass, and tilt the glass forward so you’re drinking from the “opposite” side of the glass where your fingers usually grip the cup.
I don’t have a background in hiccup science, but any time I’ve relayed this old-school “mom method” to a friend, they are surprised by how well it works.
So, does it actually work?
In an interview with Business Insider, New York University otolaryngologist (an ENT doctor) Dr. Erich Voigt said that “drinking water upside down” is the only hiccup cure that works, in his professional opinion. But it’s not the water-drinking that does the trick, but the tilting of your head. This movement forces your abdomen muscles to contract, and probably also distracts you from your hiccups as you try to drink without making a mess. Dr. Voigt claims it even helped to cure a patient who had the hiccups for two weeks straight.
Coping with cancer
Hiccups are a common problem that we all have from time to time. For most people, hiccups are usually mild and go away without any medical treatment. But when hiccups are a symptom of cancer, or a side effect of cancer treatment, they can go on for longer. This makes them tiring and difficult to cope with.
Hiccups are uncontrolled spasms of your diaphragm between normal breaths. The diaphragm is the dome shaped muscle under your ribcage. Normally, your diaphragm helps to pull air into your lungs by pulling downwards as you breathe in. And when you breathe out, your diaphragm pushes upwards.
But when you hiccup, 2 things happen:
- your diaphragm contracts and pulls down between your normal breaths, sucking air in
- immediately after this, the top of the windpipe (trachea) closes briefly, to stop more air getting in – this makes the ‘hic’ sound.
We don’t know the exact cause of hiccups. It might happen if the nerve that controls the diaphragm (the phrenic nerve) is irritated.
Things that might trigger hiccups include:
- eating and drinking too quickly, particularly gulping fizzy drinks
- over eating
- sudden changes in air temperature
- over stretching your neck
- certain drugs, such as medicines to treat anxiety (benzodiazepines)
But if you have cancer you might also get hiccups if:
- your stomach stops working and becomes extended and bloated
- you have an infection affecting your chest or food pipe (oesophagus)
- you are having chemotherapy, steroids or an opioid painkiller such as morphine
- the cancer is pressing on your diaphragm
- you have symptoms because of a brain tumour
- your kidneys are not working normally and your blood chemistry changes
- you have high blood calcium levels (hypercalcaemia)
Things to try for mild hiccups
Most people find that their hiccups go away either on their own or by trying one of the following suggestions:
- gargling or drinking ice water
- eating a piece of dry bread slowly
- drinking water from the far side of a glass – you will need to be able to bend over to do this
- taking a deep breath, holding it for as long as you can and repeating this several times
- sucking on a lemon
- drinking peppermint water
- pulling your knees up to your chest
- breathing in and out of a paper bag (not a plastic one and don’t do this for any longer than 1 minute)
Treatment for more severe hiccups
Some hiccups can last for more than a couple of days. Doctors call these persistent hiccups. If they last longer than a month, doctors call them intractable. If they last this long they can cause other problems, including:
- weight loss
- difficulty in sleeping
- feeling sick (nausea)
- feeling sad or depressed
People with persistent or intractable hiccups need medical treatment. First, your doctor will try to find out what is causing your hiccups. They may disappear by treating the cause, for example, changing the drugs that may be responsible for the hiccups.
But your doctor may treat the hiccups directly. Drugs they may use include:
- the anti sickness drug metoclopramide (Maxolon)
- a sedative, such as haloperidol or chlorpromazine
- a drug to relax your muscles such as baclofen
© Provided by Did your grandmother used to tell you to drink a glass of water upside-down when you got the dreaded hiccups?
Maybe she told you to sip from it backwards, or the wrong way round, or something along those lines. It never worked, did it?
There are few things more irritating than the hiccups. Getting them at school was the worst – it was embarrassing, and an excuse for your mate to hit you hard on the back, just as you’re writing the date in the top right-hand corner of your workbook.
Well, being hit on the back doesn’t cure hiccups either, by the way. But we do have a suggestion that’s far more likely to give yourself some relief.
How to get rid of hiccups
1. Breathe into a paper bag (don’t put it on your head)
Breathe in and out slowly into a paper bag. Concentrate on your breathing. Experts say the carbon dioxide you take in forces your body to get rid of it rather than hiccuping.
2. Pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward
This is more about helping the diaphragm.
3. Sip ice cold water
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Young woman sipping water (Image: Getty) Drink the cold water through a straw. No one knows exactly why it works, but it could be down to controlling your breathing.
4. Drink water without using your hands
…yes, give this one a try. Fill a cup full of water and sit on a chair in front of it. Bend down and try and drink from it without using your hands. The sheer concentration often gets rid if hiccups.
5. Drink upside down
Fill up a glass of water halfway. Lie down or bend at the waist, then try and drink from it without spilling.
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Kirsten Howard was one of those unfortunate souls who were too often blighted by hiccups. They can be painful, and regular, and frequent. So she went to the doctor to find out how to prevent and cure them.
The doctor told Kirsten a “secret” apparently – a five- step process that apparently does the trick. According to the Kirsten, it’s one of the “most important techniques” she’s ever learned, a “way to stop hiccups in their tracks,” which “works every time”.
While we can’t verify this, or begin to give credence to the supposed “100 per cent success rate” declared by the author, it does sound a promising way to get rid of hiccups.
6. Swallow some granulated sugar
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: iStockphoto Sugar works as it overloads the nerve endings in the mouth with the sweetness. Note: This isn’t the best method so it’s more a last resort.
7. Bite on a lemon
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Image Source Bite into a wedge and suck in the juice. Sugar can be added to help improve the taste.
It’s a similar reaction to someone scaring you as your body gets a little shock.
Place a few drops of Angostura Bitters on it if you want a more effective method.
8. or taste vinegar
Drink half a teaspoon every 10 seconds until the hiccups stop.
9. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Photolibrary RM Take the spoonful of peanut butter and hold it in your mouth for 5-10 seconds. Then swallow without chewing. You can also use nutella or almond butter.
10. Holding your breath
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty It’s a technique that is said to work by “resetting” the diaphragm. And before going into it, let’s first learn exactly what a hiccup is.
A hiccup in medical terms is a “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter”, which leads to an involuntary jerk, prompting a reflex arc. This contraction is followed by the vocal chords shutting, which leads to the rhythmic formation of hiccuping. It’s often brought on by too much fizz.
11. Inhaling – the four step method
- Inhale as far as you can, filling your lungs with air
- When you think you’ve breathed in as far as you can, try to suck in a bit more air, with an inward gasp
- Hold your breath in for precisely ten seconds
Before you exhale, swallow, like a gulp. And that’s it.
12. Imagine breathing in a figure eight
As you breathe out, slow your breath and twist it so it’s now breathing in. This is a figure eight.
It usually works with 10 cycles.
13. Stretch the diaphragm
Slowly breathe in until you feel like you can’t inhale any more. Extend the breathing towards the abdomen. You’re trying to interrupt the hiccups. Hold the breathe for 30 seconds, then exhale very slowly. Repeat 4-5 times.
14. Rotation method
Pinch your nose, then spin around clockwise and sing something like Row, row, row your boat.
Keep going, sing it five times. Then spin the other way and sing Mary had a little lamb. Singing keeps your timing.
15. Swallow air until your burp
Keep swallowing in the air until it wants to come back up. You’ll find your burp.
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty You can also cough. Count the number of seconds between hiccups then as it goes to come out cough very loudly. Repeat.
17. Get someone to tickle or scare you
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Getty Images Get a mate to tickle you. The sensation distracts you from the hiccups and often is all you need to reset. You can also do the same thing with scaring. Get someone to jump out at you!
18. Bite down on a pencil
Lay the pencil horizontally between your teeth. Try and drink water with it still in your mouth. It may prove difficult, but that’s the point.
19. ‘African Way’
The method has been dubbed the African way, but all it involves is wetting a piece of paper and laying it on the forehead.
Is there medical treatment?
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc No as you can mostly solve it yourself but if it lasts longer than 48 hours it’s time to go to the doctor.
A hiccup bout is 48 hours, persistent hiccups are more than 48 hours to a month, intractable hiccups last longer than a month.
What NOT to do
- Drink alcoholic or fizzy drinks, avoid hot drinks too
- Chew gum or smoke as you swallow more air
- Eat Spicy food
- Eat food quickly
- Eat or drink something cold immediately after something hot
Why we get hiccups
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc (Image: Getty) There’s often no obvious reason why you get them, but there are certain triggers.
Stress, strong emotions like excitement and eating and drinking can all play a part.
See a GP if they last longer than 48 hours or come back regularly.
A hiccup is s sudden, involuntary contraction (spasm) of the diaphragm muscle. When the muscle spasms, the vocal cords snap shut, producing the hiccup sound.
The medical term is singultus, which is from the Latin for ‘gasp’ or ‘sob’.
Related: The scary truth you didn’t know about hiccups (provided by Veuer)