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How to Treat Hiccups | NutritionFacts.org

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Nearly everybody has skilled hiccups, however what precisely are they? It used to be thought {that a} hiccup is only a easy muscle spasm of the diaphragm, however that was apparently disproven greater than 40 years in the past. Instead, hiccups contain a fancy, orchestrated sample of muscle contractions. But, why?

Hiccups is likely to be a leftover from the womb. During fetal life, “hiccups are universally present, their incidence peaking in the third trimester…[This] suggest[s] that hiccups might represent a necessary and vital primitive reflex” that may allow in-the-womb training of the respiration muscular tissues with out choking on amniotic fluid.

In maturity, almost something can set off hiccups. Case in level: A 19-year-old lady introduced with persistent hiccups. Her bodily examination was regular aside from an ant crawling on her eardrum. Once the ant was eliminated, her hiccups stopped.

There seem to be as many cures for hiccups as there are causes, as I focus on in my video How to Stop Hiccups. As the well-known Dr. Mayo put it, the much less we learn about one thing, the extra remedies we appear to have for it—and maybe “there is no disease which has had more forms of treatments…than has persistent hiccups.”

There are medicine, in fact. There are at all times plenty of medicine, from thorazine to apomorphine, however there are additionally a complete slew of non-pharmacological approaches—from respiration right into a paper bag and consuming from the far aspect of a glass to smearing mustard in your tummy (as you’ll be able to see at 1:24 in my video). “Many of these ‘remedies’ have not been tested and some appear to have been invented ‘purely for the amusement of the patient’s friends’.” One technique, “forcible traction of the tongue” (which implies pulling on somebody’s tongue) was attributed to the good Dr. Osler, the primary Chief Physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, however the “therapy, however, is much older and (perhaps not surprisingly) of French origin.”

Another trick that may work to remedy hiccups is “a modified Heimlich maneuver,” consisting of simply three thrusts and average strain. In one occasion, it was so profitable the affected person’s “hiccups ceased immediately.” In normal, nevertheless, “[t]reatment is notably disappointing, as is evidenced by the hundreds of remedies have been tried, none of which have been regularly curative.” You know docs are beginning to get determined once they counsel issues like chilling the ear lobe, and you realize they’re actually getting determined once they have to add prayer to the tip of a miscellaneous hiccup cures checklist.

“Use of vinegar to relieve persistent hiccups in an advanced cancer patient” was the paper that started me down the hiccup rabbit gap. I used to be reviewing the most recent analysis on vinegar and stumbled throughout a case the place, “[a]fter the failure of common treatments for hiccups, the patient was given a sip of vinegar and his hiccups abated”—stopped after only a single sip. Evidently, bitter tastes, equivalent to vinegar and lemon, have been used to deal with hiccups because the 1930s, however “nonpharmacological remedies such as vinegar…fell out of favor with the widespread use of pharmacotherapy,” that’s, medicine. After all, how a lot are you able to cost for a sip of vinegar?

If worse comes to worst, there’s the “phrenic nerve crush” surgical procedure, which is as unhealthy because it sounds. Before going that route, although, you might discover it “surprising how many patients with hiccups respond to digital compression of the eyeballs.” Yes, we’re speaking about digit as in finger, as in pushing your finger into somebody’s eyes as a counter-irritation measure. That will get their thoughts off their hiccups!

If a finger within the eye someway doesn’t distract them sufficient, docs can attempt “digital rectal massage.” A 27-year-old man introduced to the ER with “intractable hiccups.” Emergency employees tried massaging different locations and even tried the digital eyeball compression, however nothing appeared to do it. So, bend over. “Digital rectal massage was then attempted using a slow circumferential motion”—and it labored! So, earlier than giving sufferers medicine, perhaps we’d give them a therapeutic massage. It’s “easy to perform” and could also be much less harmful than sticking your fingers into individuals’s eye sockets, which, in case you’re in medical faculty and have to memorize all these ridiculous names, is named the Dagnini-Aschner Maneuver. (Medicine loves its eponyms.)

Speaking of maneuvers, how’s this for a pick-up line? “Hello. (Hic!) Want to assist me (hic!) remedy my hiccups?” In one case, on the fourth day of steady hiccuping, the affected person’s hiccups lastly “suddenly and completely ceased,” with some spousal assist, on the level of climax. “It is unclear,” the physician wrote, “whether orgasm in women leads to a similar resolution, an issue that could be investigated further.” 

And it was, again in 1845. An notorious, disturbing case report that amounted to successfully bragging about sexual assault was revealed in what was to be change into the New England Journal of Medicine. A younger, non secular lady with intractable hiccups fell into the palms of a Dr. George Dexter. He first tried the perfect trendy drugs might supply—bloodletting—however she continued to hiccup, till he pressed his hand on her genitals for a couple of minutes and that apparently labored. This went on for month after month, with the physician often calling in his colleagues to present them this “singular phenomena.”

Who was this man? “Although his interaction with the young female patient would not meet today’s ethical standards”—you may say that once more!—“his medical observation was valid…” Even although rectal therapeutic massage and sexual stimulation might assist, “this kind of recommendation is reserved for carefully selected patients!”


DO NOT drink vinegar straight. In this weblog, I talked about taking a tiny sip, not full-on consuming it. If you do drink as a substitute of sip, you can also make the issue worse, as I focus on in my video Vinegar Mechanisms and Side Effects. Vinegar could be nice stuff, although. Check out my video sequence to discover out why I embrace it in my family’s each day food plan:

There’s one other method to deal with hiccups—one which I’ve used myself since I used to be a child. Since then, I’ve by no means had a couple of or two hiccups as a result of I can cease them of their tracks. Learn my trick in my video How to Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t but, you’ll be able to subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my reside displays:

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