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We all know what it's like to get the hiccups and the inconvenience it causes. Sometimes they're gone fast, others feel like they're never going to end. I've seen people brought to tears because their painful hiccups just won't stop. I am writing this because I recently helped my sister stop hiccuping when she warned me that she was about to throw up if they kept going.
For those who do not know, hiccups are caused because of a person's diaphragm; the huge muscle that allows us to breathe. The diaphragm is what inflates and deflates our lungs, and when it spasms, you get those annoying little hitches of air that are hiccups. Think of it as a flat muscle that creates a perfect seal between your chest cavity--inside your rib cage--and your abdomen. When you breathe in, this air-tight muscle is drawing downward and inflating your lungs, causing air to be pulled into your body through inhalation. Exhaling is the relaxation of this muscle, letting the lungs return to their original size and shape as air is exhaled.
The reason it is important to know this is because the diaphragm is also the key to stopping hiccups. It can be done by one's self, but it is best when there is someone else to help out. The technique is called a Diaphragm Stretch.
If hiccups are a spasm of your diaphragm, why not treat it the same way that you would with a spasm in a leg muscle? When someone gets a cramp in their leg, you always see them trying to stretch it out to relieve the cramp--it's a natural reaction by the human body.
To stretch the diaphragm is actually quite easy, especially if done with a partner. The person with the hiccups, Person One, needs to lie down on a flat surface, a couch or the floor for example. If that's not possible, have them lean against the wall. For the person assisting, Person Two, they will need to place their hands on the lower rib cage, almost like you're cupping their sides. With the slightest pressure, you should be able to feel the curve of the lower rib cage against your thumbs; make sure your thumbs are below the rib cage, this is how the diaphragm will be stretched.
Placement of Hands on Ribs
Have Person One take in a deep breath and follow the movement of the ribs with your hands. The rib cage will elevate when inhaling, some more than others, but make sure they take a deep breath. When they exhale, using no downward or upward pressure pressure, hold the rib cage in the lifted position.
Do no try to push against the rib cage, you are only holding it in place so that it cannot descend upon exhale.
Have Person One breathe in again and follow the upward motion a second time, still maintaining the lifted rib cage from the first inhale. If the ribs raise more, hold them in the new position upon exhale. Have them complete one more inhale and exhale and then gently and slowly release the rib cage.
The hiccups should have stopped while stretching the ribs, but make sure to take a few more calming breaths once the ribs have been released.
This technique can be performed alone, with Person One holding their own ribs upon each inhale; however, it is easier to do with a partner and provides better results.
As I warned before, you are not pushing or pressing on the ribs--they must lift naturally with inhalation, and Person Two (or One) is only holding them in place so they do no lower when exhaling.
That is the trick to stopping hiccups every time!