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Health > Hiccups


Hiccups Fact Sheet

A common condition which involves short, involuntary intakes of breath.

What to look for

  • repeated, involuntary short intakes of breath.

Hiccups (involuntary spasms of the diaphragm) are usually a minor annoyance and last only for a short time. They can affect anyone, and most pregnant women will tell you that they have even felt their unborn child hiccup in the womb.


It is caused by an irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm usually because they have been irritated by indigestion, carbonated drinks or eating too quickly, not chewing the food and swallowing properly.

Traditional Treatment

Most cases of hiccups will usually only last for a very short time. However there are numerous remedies for this condition.
Convention medicine is not needed terribly often, but if a case of hiccups fails to stop after a day, a visit to your Doctor may be a good idea to rule out disease-related causes.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - To stop the hiccups, herbalists recommend warm chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea, which is said to act as an antispasmodic agent. Another remedy that may bring relief is a tea combining 1/2 tsp of tinctures of peppermint (Mentha piperita) and boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) with a few drops of cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) and the juice of a quarter lemon in 1 cup hot water.
Homoeopathy - Spasming of the diaphragm may be eased by Ignatia, Cuprum metallicum, or Nax vomica. You will need professional help to ensure that you get the right medication in the right doses.
Aromatherapy - Try using tangerine massaged into the abdomen. Dilute the oil in a carrier oil. (see our section on aromatherapy).

Personal Care

Most doctors believe that high blood levels of carbon dioxide inhibit hiccups, while low levels will aggravate them. Here are some other remidies that may or may not work for you.

  • Place a brown paper bag over your mouth and breathe in and out for a minute or two. You will be breathing in your own carbon dioxide which should help your hiccups. Be sure NEVER to use a plastic bag.
  • Hold your breath and swallow at the same time you feel the urge to hiccup.
  • If your child has the hiccups, tickle him gently while instructing him to hold his breath and not to laugh.
  • Hold your breath and count to ten.
  • Drink a teaspoon of raspberry cordial with no water.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your hiccups persist for more than a day;
  • hiccups and fever occur after major surgery in the upper abdomen

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