by Kirsten Howard

It was for a very different reason that I walked into the doctor’s office that morning. I was after some antibiotics for a chest infection that I couldn’t seem to shake. While I was sat in the doctor’s office moaning about it, I happened to get the hiccups.

I probably don’t need to tell you how painful it is to have hiccups when you have a sore chest, but rather than watching me suffer through them, the lovely doctor took off his stethoscope, leaned in and said, “I’m going to tell you a secret.”

Intrigued and in-between hiccups, I asked him what he meant. It was then that I learned one of the most important techniques in my life to date: a way to stop hiccups in their tracks that has worked every time.

Since that visit to my doctor a very long time ago, I’ve tried to spread the secret to everyone I’ve seen suffering with hiccups. So if you often find yourself trying to ride them out, I hope this will help you, too.

The hiccup is an involuntary jerk of the diaphragm. A strong contraction of the diaphragm is quickly followed by the vocal chords closing, leading to a relatively constant rhythm of “hics.”

The following technique works by “resetting” the diaphragm, halting the rhythm of the reflex arc. The steps must be followed exactly to end the cycle of hiccups:

1. First, breathe in as far as you can, filling the lungs with air.

2. When you think you’ve breathed in as far as you can, try and suck in a bit more air with a little inward gasp.

3. Hold this breath in for 10 full seconds.

4. Before you breathe out, swallow.

That’s it—good luck!