How to Get Rid of Hiccups: Home Remedies That Actually Work

The next time you're struck with a bad case of the hiccups, reach for these old-school remedies.

1 / 16

How to get rid of hiccups - cover your mouth
Photo: Shutterstock

How to get rid of hiccups

Ever notice that hiccups seem to strike at the worst possible moment? Whether you’re sitting in a hushed theatre or settling into the dentist’s chair, you suddenly find yourself wracked with the uncontrollable spasm in your diaphragm that—try as you might—you can’t contain. Find out how to get rid of hiccups with these time-tested home remedies. There are 18 potential hiccup cures in total, so if the first one doesn’t work, simply move on to the next!

2 / 16
How to get rid of hiccups - cover your mouth
Photo: /

Cover your mouth

Try cupping your hands over your nose and mouth, but continue breathing normally. The extra dose of carbon dioxide should help you get rid of hiccups.

Check out the best home remedies for nausea.

3 / 16
How to get rid of hiccups - press the palm of your hand
Photo: Shutterstock

Use your hands

Try pressing the palm of your hand with the thumb of your other hand—the harder, the better. Alternatively, you can squeeze the ball of your left thumb between the thumb and forefinger of the right. The discomfort is a distraction that affects your nervous system and may get rid of hiccups.

4 / 16

How to get rid of hiccups - massage neck
Photo: Shutterstock

Massage your neck

If targeting those pressure points on your hands doesn’t work, try massaging or rubbing the carotid arteries on the right and left sides of your neck.

Discover more home remedies backed by science.

5 / 16
Man holding his breath
Photo: /

Hold your breath

The next time you’ve got hiccups, take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds. When there’s a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs, your diaphragm relaxes.

6 / 16
How to get rid of hiccups - stick out your tongue
Photo: Shutterstock

Stick out your tongue

When no one’s watching, stick out your tongue. This exercise is done by singers and actors because it stimulates the opening between the vocal cords (the glottis). You breathe more smoothly, quelling the spasms that cause hiccups. According to Harvard Medical School, this home remedy may be even more effective if you gently pull on your tongue!

7 / 16
Woman plugging ears
Photo: Cast Of Thousands /

Plug your ears

The next time you get hiccups, stick your fingers in your ears for 20 to 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can press the soft areas behind your earlobes, just below the base of the skull. This sends a “relax” signal through the vagus nerve, which connects to the diaphragm.

Psst—here’s what your earwax reveals about your health.

8 / 16
Man drinking water
Photo: ShotPrime Studio /

Drink some water

Take nine or 10 quick sips in a row from a glass of water. When you’re gulping a drink, rhythmic contractions of the esophagus override spasms of the diaphragm. If this doesn’t work, place a single layer of paper towel over the top of a glass, then drink through the towel. You’ll have to “pull” even harder with your diaphragm to suck up the water.

This is what could happen when you start drinking eight glasses of water a day.

9 / 16
Plug your ears and drink water from a straw
Photo: ShutterStock

Combine the previous two strategies

If you can block your ears while you drink the water, all the better. Stick your fingers in your ears and sip though a straw. You’re pressing on the vagus nerve while also getting the benefits of steady swallowing. In Canadian Family Physician journal, an emergency room doctor shared anecdotal evidence suggesting that this natural remedy often works.

Find out the best home remedies for indigestion.

10 / 16

How to get rid of hiccups - spoonful of sugar
Photo: Mike_O /

Swallow something sweet

A spoonful of sugar is a popular hiccup cure, and here’s why that might be: It’s believed that the graininess could stimulate the vagus nerve, interfering with the hiccup reflex, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Check out the sneaky reasons you’re always bloated.

11 / 16

white vinegar on the wooden table top
focal point/Shutterstock

…Or something sour

A 2015 case report on persistent hiccups found that sour compounds, like those found in vinegar, relieve hiccups. A little might go a long way, so try just a drop or teaspoonful of vinegar on your tongue.

(Just make sure you never do this while taking apple cider vinegar.)

12 / 16
Hottest hot sauce - chili pepper exploding
phive /

Take a hit of hot sauce

This probably works because the heat and burn are distracting enough to turn your body’s focus on the burn, instead of the hiccup process. A word of warning, however: In some cases, hot sauce has actually been found to trigger hiccups!

Find out what makes hot sauce hot.

13 / 16
dill seed

Chew up some dill

Drinking dill pickle juice may also do the trick, according to an old case report in the British Medical Journal: A patient who had stubborn hiccups after surgery only responded to one of the doctors remedies: Pickle juice.

Here are eight medicinal herbs you can grow at home.

14 / 16

How to get rid of hiccups - breathing into paper bag
Photo: Khosro /

Breathe into a paper bag

The next time you get hiccups, breathe slowly and deeply into a small paper bag. (Stop if you feel light-headed.) This could increase the carbon dioxide level in the blood and make the diaphragm contract more deeply to bring in more oxygen. Although this remedy is scientifically unproven, it might provide relief, according to Mayo Clinic.

Psst—here’s what your burps are trying to tell you.

15 / 16
How to get rid of hiccups - hug your knees
Photo: Shutterstock

Hug your knees

Sit comfortably before bringing your knees to your chest and keep them there for two minutes. Pulling your knees in compresses your chest and could help stop diaphragm spasms, per University of California Berkeley.

16 / 16
Lemon wedge
Photo: Roman Samokhin /

Suck on a lemon

Biting or sucking on a lemon wedge is another popular hiccup remedy. If you have them handy, soak the lemon wedge in non-alcoholic bitters first. According to a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine, this treatment cured 14 out of 16 people with hiccups, Best Health reports.

Now that you know how to get rid of hiccups, check out 30 more old-time home remedies that really work.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Newsletter Unit