If you’re like me and religiously get hiccups (loud ones at that), you’ll be pleased to know scientists think they may have found a way to cure them.
There are hundreds of hypotheses of how to stop hiccups; from drinking water upside down and holding your breath, to having someone scare you to make you jump. However, scientists believe they’ve now found a proper way to get rid of them.
If you’re wondering what hiccups actually are, other than being an inconvenience, they’re known as ‘singultus’ in the medical world and are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. When the contraction occurs, it closes your vocal chords which is why you make a ‘hic’ noise.
Now, scientists have created a straw-like device, which they’re calling the HiccAway. It’s described as a ‘forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool,’ or FISST for short, and is thought to be the next best ‘cure’ for hiccups.
One end of the L-shaped device is placed inside a glass of water, while the other end goes inside the hiccup-ers mouth. However, while it looks like your average straw, the contraption has a pressure valve inside it, making it more difficult to sip the water; this activates the phrenic nerve to trigger a contraction of the diaphragm, The Guardian reports.
Then, as the water is swallowed by the individual, the vagus nerve is activated. As these two nerves cause hiccups, scientists believe that by keeping them busy, it will stop them from causing hiccups.
Dr Ali Seifi, associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and a co-author of the study looking at FISST, said the device ‘works instantly’ and will continue to work for ‘several hours.’
A study involving 249 people, published in the journal Jama Network Open, found that FISST stopped 92% of people’s hiccups, while 90% said it was more convenient than other home remedies.
Echoing Dr Seifi’s optimism, Dr Rhys Thomas, a consultant neurologist and epilepsy neuroscientist at Newcastle University, who was not part of the study, said:
Anything that allows you to inflate your chest and swallow will work – the key down the back, the ‘boo!’ and the fingers in the ears will do that to a certain degree – and then this [device], if it allows you to have a long, slow swallow, will be a pretty potent way of doing that.
‘I think this is a solution to a problem that nobody has been asking for,’ he added.
The study did have some limitations, however, as it did not include a control group, and was based on self-reported results.