Two “Body Hacks” That Should Be Common Knowledge

As an adult I learned a couple of things that I sincerely wish I had known my whole life: how to cure hiccups and how to clear sinuses.

While knowing these incredibly simple and effective tricks have made my life better overall, I can’t help but feel a bit swindled that I didn’t learn them until well into adulthood. In fact, the sinus clearing trick only came to my attention a few days ago, and I’ve been living with blocked sinuses for years now (thanks a lot, allergies)!

How to Cure Hiccups

Step 1 – Take in a deep breath and hold it

Step 2 – Swallow

Step 3 – Repeat steps one and two until you cannot possibly do it any more

That’s it, that’s how you cure hiccups! And it really works. Probably 90% of the time in my experience. There are some tricks to the trick, though. For example, it’s not very easy to swallow while holding your breath, but it’s important that you do it anyway. You have to really force yourself to swallow on top of your full lungs. Then you take in a tiny bit more air, and swallow again. Do this over and over until you physically cannot swallow any more or cannot hold your breath any longer.

I think I read somewhere that this cure works by kind of “resetting” your diaphragm. Hiccups are essentially caused by spasms of the diaphragm, the muscle that operates your lungs. Swallowing when your lungs are filled with air presses down and puts pressure on the diaphragm, which somehow relieves the hiccups.

It doesn’t always work on the first try, and actually I typically have to do it two or three times before my hiccups are gone, but it certainly works a hell of a lot better than all the other mythical hiccup “cures” we hear growing up, some of which are basically impossible and none of which work. Here are a few that I remember from my childhood:

Bad Hiccups Cure

Does not cure hiccups

  • Have someone startle you (never works because you’re always expecting it… plus it’s utter nonsense anyway)
  • Drink water through a napkin (really just makes your water taste like wood pulp)
  • Drink water from the far edge of a glass (I’m convinced this started as a joke to get kids to spill water all over themselves)
  • Pull on your tongue (doesn’t work but looks hilarious)
  • Breathe into a paper bag (pointless)

As far as I can tell, most of these old so-called cures treat hiccups as though they’re something that can be forgotten. Like if you are distracted enough they’ll just go away. But that doesn’t really make sense if hiccups are due to a spasming diaphragm, since it’s an actual medical condition. In any case, I’ve been spreading the word on this cure since I learned it. I once gave an impromptu presentation to the occupants of my doctor’s office waiting room when one of them had a pretty nasty case of hiccups, and the cure worked on the first try for that poor, embarrassed patient.

How to Clear Your Sinuses

Step 1 – Press your thumb against the area between your eyebrows. Use firm, consistent pressure (but don’t hurt yourself, obviously)

Step 2 – Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Don’t aim for any particular spot, just hold it there and apply gentle pressure

Step 3 – Maintain the pressure in both spots for at least 20 seconds, and as long as you can handle it.

This one is odd, and I don’t have the first idea why it works, from a medical standpoint, though I do know that sinuses run all over the face, so presumably the two pressure points are causing some critical junction in the sinuses to open up and drain.

I’ve found that this works about 80% of the time, and it has been an absolute blessing since I learned about it last week. Particularly because I have pretty aggressive allergies up here in Northern Nevada, and before I lived here I was in Austin, TX, the pollen capital of the world. For weeks each year every surface is literally covered in a thick layer of yellow pollen, and people who live there are all to familiar with the many allergy seasons. In any case, this little tip has had my sinuses draining properly for the past few days, and I have been using it each tie I start to feel a little clogged up in the nose or head.

A couple of pointers I’ve picked up already: sometimes pressing upwards on the forehead helps trigger the drainage; I have also had some success pressing different areas of my face at the same time, so that might be worth a try if you’re really stopped up.

Why Don’t More People Know?

What I really don’t understand is how so few people know these basic remedies for extremely common conditions. How is it that hiccups are widespread enough that every kid in America hears some combination of pointless, useless, and messy “cures” that frankly don’t do a damn thing? Even a quick Google search for “hiccup cures” turns up a series of absolutely ridiculous remedy ideas, including – and this is not a joke – “get a rectal massage”. Yeah, that one actually shows up before the list of web results on Google, in an excerpt from a website called “Medical Daily”.

I strongly encourage you to share these tips with everyone you know, given the opportunity. Tweet, Like, or otherwise share this blog post, or just be sure to try the cures out for yourself the next time you have hiccups or stopped up sinuses, and then revel in the wives-tale-busting power you now have. Then, armed with real experience proving these two remedies work, be sure to share them with your friends, family, and co-workers the next time someone gets hiccups or has a head cold. They’ll thank you, and eventually maybe kids won’t grow up spilling water all over themselves, consuming napkin bits, and being miserable when their sinuses are jammed full of allergens.


And now, here’s nearly eight minutes of a scantily clad woman hiccuping, because YouTube.

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