Can A Spoon Of Sugar Help With Hiccups?

Hiccups often hit without warning and are pretty annoying, especially when they seem like they will not stop. You've probably heard of a dozen hiccup remedies, but do any of them actually work? 

Hiccups are caused by a spasm in your diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. The sound of a hiccup happens when your diaphragm spasms, causing your vocal cords to quickly close. Hiccups will typically go away within a few minutes but can last months for some. You might feel a tightness in your chest, throat, and stomach. You might need to see a doctor if your hiccups interrupt sleep or eating, or if they last longer than 48 hours. It may be indicative of an underlying health condition (via the Mayo Clinic). 

Do any of the home remedies for hiccups actually work? For example, can you swallow a spoonful of sugar and cure your hiccups?

Can a spoonful of sugar cure the hiccups?

Mary Poppins sang about a spoonful of sugar helping with medicine, but can it cure hiccups?

In 1971, Dr. Edgar Engelman was at a party with his wife, who suddenly got the hiccups that didn't go away after an hour. A friend at the party recommended she swallow a spoonful of sugar, and it stopped the hiccups right away. Dr. Engelman was an intern at Stanford Medical Center and started finding patients with hiccups to give his new cure. He claimed it worked on 19 out of 20 patients. He reported his findings to the New England Journal of Medicine (via The Stanford Daily). 

How does this work? According to Mental Floss, it's all because of your vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem to your colon, making it one of the longest nerves in your body. Healthline notes that the vagus nerve sends information on sensations from your stomach, throat, ears, and digestive tract. Mental Floss continues to explain that the spoonful of sugar works because it distracts the vagus nerve, sending a signal to your brain that tells it to stop the hiccups because something else has come up. 

Try this old trick the next time you get the hiccups. Allow a spoonful of sugar to dissolve on your tongue before swallowing.