A hiccough is caused by the spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm. This causes a jolt of the upper body and is in itself quite harmless. A hiccough can only be considered a problem if it is persistent.

Hiccoughs occur because of an irritation or inflammation of the diaphragm. Psychological stress can cause a mild cramp and ingestion of a compound that may irritate or inflame the oesophagus or stomach which in turn touches the diaphragm can also cause the problem. Rarely, the irritation of the phrenic nerve in the neck can cause problems because this controls the diaphragm.


Try a couple of old wives’ tales: drinking a glass of water with the head between the knees, or dropping a cold object down the back of the collar and holding the breath. Each of these techniques causes the diaphragm to spasm which can take away the irritation.

The homeopathic remedies Ratanhia and Sulphuric acid are first-line remedies but they are unusual; you may find Nux vomica in your medical chest and this can be tried initially. Take potency 6 every lOmin.

Ginseng taken with meals at twice the dose recommended on any bought product may be beneficial. • A persistence of hiccoughing may indicate an underlying sinister cause of an irritation to the diaphragm such as a tumour or abdominal cavity abscess and needs to be investigated by a GP initially.