Although there are no guaranteed quick cures for hiccups, WebMD suggests holding one's breath, drinking a glass of cold water or eating a spoonful of sugar. The Mayo Clinic adds that breathing into a paper bag or gargling with ice water can help.
Hiccups occur when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily and the vocal cords close, producing the characteristic "hic" sound. WebMD states that hiccups can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, smoking, swallowing too much air, eating too much food too quickly, or a sudden change in stomach temperature. They can also result from stress or excitement. Avoiding these risk factors may reduce the occurrence of hiccups.
Some additional suggestions for treating hiccups, provided by Medical News Today, include hugging the knees to the chest, leaning forward to gently compress the chest, drinking warm water very slowly, sprinkling a few drops of vinegar into the mouth, and gently pressing the nose while swallowing. Additional suggestions include sucking on a slice of lemon or pulling the tongue to stimulate the vagus nerve. Many home remedies work by increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which often stops hiccups, according to WebMD.
Regardless of treatment, hiccups usually stop within a few minutes to a few hours after onset. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are known as persistent hiccups, and hiccups that last longer than one month are called intractable hiccups, according to the Mayo Clinic. These types of long-term hiccups may be a sign of an underlying medical condition and may require treatment by a physician, particularly if the hiccups interfere with eating, sleeping or breathing.