CLEVELAND - Hate the hiccups? Most people do.
Dr. Bo Pichurko treats hiccups at Cleveland Clinic. He said hiccups are caused by contractions of the diaphragm after laughing, being frightened or even eating spicy or dry foods.
Most cases only last a few minutes, but the sensation can be annoying. While everyone has their own sworn remedies, Pichurko said the old stand-by of holding your breath is a good place to start.
"Anything that would interrupt the normal pattern of diaphragm contraction and breathing stands a good chance of interrupting this reflex we call a hiccup. For example, a deep breath and a 10-second breath hold is worth doing," said Pichurko.
If that doesn't work, Pichurko suggested bringing your knees to your chest, while holding your breath, or breathing into a paper bag. The paper bag prevents us from blowing off too much carbon dioxide, which could cause us to get light-headed.
There are also certain foods that may give hiccups the "heave-ho."
"Things that gently irritate or stimulate the food tube, the esophagus, and the lining of the stomach stand a good chance of helping us," said Pichurko. "Those are things like biting into a lemon, like taking a spoonful of sugar or honey, some would say peanut butter kind of fits that description."
The theory is that by stimulating the esophagus, you "re-set" the nerve that sends the message to the brain that is telling your body to hiccup.
That's why the age-old remedy of a glass of water is the go-to trick for many people.
"It's one of the first things I would try, definitely. Some would say ice water or very cold water," said Pichurko.
Distraction may also help. Scaring someone with hiccups can be effective, but Pichurko said you can distract yourself by doing something like listing all of the U.S. Presidents.
Most cases of hiccups go away fairly quickly, but if your hiccups last more than 48 hours, call your doctor.
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