Most cases of hiccups are generally believed to be a reflex action of your body, which can be caused when the vagus nerve (which runs from the brain to the abdomen) or one of its branches is irritated. If you regularly suffer from hiccups (and they always seem to manifest when you least expect them), you may have been told you can cure them by swallowing sugar. Some people also swear by the stick-your-fingers-in-your-ears technique. Believe it or not, some of these seemingly goofy "cures" can prove to be helpful, and here are some of the reasons why they may work:
Taking a spoonful of sugar overloads the nerve endings in the mouth and sticking your fingers into your ears stimulates the vagus nerve, which can help to stop the hiccups. There are several other tricks that you can try.
Disrupting the hiccups cycle is sometimes effective, so if you are startled the element of surprise could serve the purpose; gulping water can also interrupt the cycle of hiccups. Sticking out your tongue and pulling on it could also be effective. A cotton swab to the roof of your mouth or having someone tickle you are two ideas that may also help.
Another treatment variation includes holding your breath for as long as possible or breathing into a paper bag. This increases the of level carbon dioxide in your bloodstream and may make the body "forget" the hiccups.
Two final tips: If you are a fast eater, slow down and don't overload your stomach. Avoiding overly spicy foods and excess alcohol can also reduce the incidence of hiccups.
If you suffer regularly from hiccups or are having a prolonged bout, consult a healthcare professional to make sure there are not more serious underlying issues causing the problem.
Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2011. Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.