Holding your breath, drinking from the back of a glass or swallowing sugar may work.

But North Carolina doctors report that in cases of hiccups that won't go away, injection of a common tranquilizer may do the trick -- and safely.

"In our clinics intramuscular haloperidol has been used in seven patients with excellent results," Dr. Michael F. Fleming and several colleagues report in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Hiccups are involuntary, intermittent contractions of the diaphragm. There can be various causes.

In one case, a 75-year-old man who had been hiccupping for 36 hours was injected with the drug, and hiccups stopped in 30 minutes. Other medications sometimes used in such severe cases of hiccups were ruled out because of the man's age and because he had vascular disease. In another case, a 35-year-old man with cancer had hiccups on and off for three months, and ultimately was hiccupping 12 times a minute. Traditional methods failed, as did several other drugs. After injection with haloperidol, the hiccups stopped in 60 minutes, the doctors report.

He was also referred to a psychiatrist "to help him deal with his anxieties" about his cancer, which were believed to have contributed to the hiccups.