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How effective are Old Wives’ Tales on Hiccups

The hiccups can range from annoying to even somewhat alarming. While it’s unlikely that your hiccups are connected to a serious health issue, it can be rather aggravating if you keep struggling with them; after all, an individual can at times, hiccup up to 60 times per minute. That amount of hiccups will have you looking for a hiccups cures in no time. But the problem is that many of the cures you find are most likely old wives’ tales. This means that they may be widely circulated, but aren’t actually very effective. Though there are sometimes a bit of truth to old wives’ tales, it’s important to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing as you try to cure your hiccups, so you can prevent wasting time.

What Are The Hiccups, Actually?

To discount some of these old wives’ tales, let’s understand exactly what the hiccups really are. It’s essentially a spasm of your diaphragm, which is caused by the phrenic nerve. You have to raise the carbon dioxide level in your blood in order to stop these spasms, which is done by stopping your intake of oxygen. This means that the best cures for the hiccups include ones such as breathing into a paper bag or holding your breath for an extended period of time.

You may have tried these cures without any success, and it could be that you just weren’t waiting long enough for the fix to work. Typically, you’ll need to hold your breath for at least 30 seconds in order to stop your hiccups from recurring but again there is no exact science for this to accurately work each time. 

What Kinds of Old Wives’ Tales Supposedly Treat the Hiccups?

There are a variety of other old wives’ tales that allegedly treat the hiccups, some of which are more effective than others and some of which are just plain ineffective and way more complicated than holding your breath. Some of the more effective cures are consuming peppermint to relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter and eating a spoonful of peanut butter changes your breathing and swallowing pattern because it takes the body longer to digest. 


Startling someone, as the old wives’ tales often instruct, will probably not help their hiccups but it can be fun to do! However drinking water while holding your nose can be more effective but again may not work every time. 
While all these old wives’ tales can be fun to try, they can be frustrating if you’re in need of a solution and don’t see effective results. Because there is no exact science to the cures, they are inconsistent in their results. A more guaranteed solution, that has been tested and proven to work every time is the HiccAway device. The pressure from the suction has been accurately measured to provide enough pressure to stop these spasms every time, providing consistent reliable relief.

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Myths About Hiccups

It is safe to say that everyone has experienced hiccups at one point or another in their life. They are caused by spasms in the diaphragm and, while uncomfortable, they are very rarely life-threatening. Most of us simply want to find a way to stop hiccups when they happen, but some myths, including those below, make this a bit difficult.

They Are Caused By Someone Speaking Negatively About You

This first myth has many different variations around the world, but it often boils down to hiccups occurring when you are the topic of a negative discussion. This is simply not true. If that were the case, there would be a lot more instances of hiccups, and there are people who would never stop having them as well. This myth may have been started to keep people from taking part in negative gossip or soothe one afflicted with hiccups, but whatever the case, it is not true.

You can Stop Hiccups by Being Scared or Holding Your Breath


This is another group of myths involving hiccups and their solution. None of these common home solutions work for hiccups, from holding your breath and having someone scare you to drinking water and placing a finger on your forehead. Over time, these solutions were all found not to help, only seeming to work when the hiccups eventually stop on their own by the time you are working on a solution.

You Get Hiccups When Someone Thinks of You

Like the first myth, this one goes that whenever you are on someone’s mind, you will get a case of hiccups. Some people believe to stop hiccups, you must call out the name of the person thinking about you, and they will vanish. Like the other myths, this one also lacks a way of proving it, and by the time you have called out a few people’s names, your hiccups will have reached the end of their cycle anyway.

Some People Never Get Hiccups

While it may be tempting to think that hiccups are a kind of condition and some people are immune or don’t suffer from it, this is also not true. As mentioned, hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm caused by a physical agent, including drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods, to name a few. Everyone has had hiccups at some point in time – even fetuses in the womb have been recorded getting hiccups.

Each Time You Hiccup, Your Heart Skips a Beat

An irregular heartbeat is very dangerous, and while there are several possible causes, hiccups are not one of them. Your heartbeat and hiccups share no relation at all. Some studies have shown a minor fluctuation in heartbeat rhythm when people hiccup, but this disturbance is extremely negligible and comes nowhere close to stopping your heart.

You Can Stop Hiccups by Tickling The Roof 

This is another solution that most well-meaning people swear by. They say that by tickling the roof of your mouth using something like a q-tip, you will stop hiccups. Some scientists have concluded that this trick may distract the mind from focusing on the hiccups, which often seems to worsen them. The tickling sensation may override the irritation that caused the hiccups initially, but all of this is just speculation. Similar activities involve dissolving a spoonful of sugar on your tongue and sticking your fingers in your ears.

While there seems to be a hiccup myth and solution for every culture worldwide, most of them have been disproved. It has also been difficult to study hiccups effectively because they occur randomly, often disappearing as fast as they began.

They are, however, very uncomfortable to experience for most people, and it is for this reason that people are always looking for a way to stop hiccups effectively. The good news is that now, you can stop them the next time they start using our solution. Check it out, and you can give your friends and family some relief the next time they experience hiccups.

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Introducing “Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool ” (FISST); a feasible technique in stopping hiccups.

We are introducing the “Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool ” ( FISST) as a way with high success in terminating hiccups. In summary, to stop hiccups, you need to forcefully suction the water through a straw that requires a high amount of negative pressure. This high negative pressure can be induced by a valve or a resistance within the straw. This forceful suction requires maximum contraction of the diaphragm muscle by activating the phrenic nerve, which is coming from high cervical vertebrae C3 to C5. After the suction, you should immediately swallow the water. Swallowing requires a complex function of several muscles in the pharynx and larynx, specifically the closure of the epiglottis, to avoid the entrance of water into the trachea. The epiglottis closure is through the vagus nerve activation, which is part of the hiccups cycle.

In summary, FISST simultaneously activates the two main nerves which are responsible for hiccups. And this concurrency stops the vicious cycle between these two nerves. Although most of the physical maneuvers of other remedies stimulate one of these two nerves and muscles, FISST accomplishes both in unison. Prior efforts have attempted either phrenic or vagal nerve stimulation with varying levels of success. FISST has gained more than 90% success in stopping hiccups based on several hundred consumer results, and we hope this new invention brings hope and relieve , especially for patients with chronic hiccups such as cancer patients.

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What Causes Hiccups?

Many of us, if not all have experienced hiccups at some point in our lives. Even mammals and amphibians have hiccups. But have you thought of what exactly causes hiccups?

A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary spasm of the diaphragm muscle between regular breaths. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle under your ribcage. The diaphragm is being innervated by the phrenic nerve, which comes all the way from our neck to the lower part of the chest. Anything that irritates the phrenic nerve can then stimulate the diaphragm and cause hiccups. Normally, the diaphragm muscle helps pull air into the lungs by pulling downwards as you breathe in, acting as a piston that suctions the air into the lungs. When you breathe out, the diaphragm pushes upwards, again like a piston. When the diaphragm spasms, the lungs suck in air quickly, and the glottis (the vocal cords inside our voice box) closes abruptly. This action stops more air from getting into the lungs and produces the “hiccup” sound we are familiar with, which occurs as the glottis shuts due to the air pressure differential.

Anything that irritates the phrenic nerve can then stimulate the diaphragm and cause hiccups.
Anything that irritates the phrenic nerve can then stimulate the diaphragm and cause hiccups.

Two Types of Hiccups:

Typically, hiccups are not pathologic, and they stop on their own, but sometimes hiccups are a symptom of another disease.

Generally speaking, we can divide the causes of hiccups into two major groups: Non-Pathological and Pathological etiologies – most hiccups that we see and are accustomed to are non-pathological in nature.

Non-Pathological causes of hiccups:

Many of the non-pathological reasons for the hiccups are associated with eating and drinking, which in some circumstances can trigger the phrenic nerve. When we eat quickly, air can enter into the stomach with the food, and this can cause distention in the stomach, which in turn places mechanical pressure on the phrenic nerve, ultimately causing hiccups.

We see this occur in nature in the same way, often with animals, such as dogs, that eat quickly. Another way that air can enter the stomach occurs when we chew gum or smoke – both conditions can cause distention of the stomach and additional pressure on the phrenic nerve. Eating spicy foods can also trigger hiccups, and in this scenario, the acidity of the spice chemically triggers the phrenic nerve, which is located close to the stomach.

Another cause of non-pathologic hiccups involves carbonated and alcoholic beverages; both of these chemically irritate the phrenic nerve, near the stomach, and that triggers hiccups.  

Pathological causes of hiccups:

Pathological hiccups are less common but can be much more serious, and should be investigated by a patient’s physician. Here are is a breakdown of those causes.

A – Neurological causes:

In this category, most of the etiologies are due to a pathology inside the brain, where the central nervous system nucleuses for phrenic and vagus nerves are located. One of the most common causes of hiccups in this group is a result of strokes – especially when the stroke has happened at the medulla. The medulla is a part of the brain stem that connects the spinal cord to the brain. Other pathological masses that press the medulla also can manifest as hiccups such as brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformation, and demyelinating diseases.

B – Gastrointestinal causes:

Another pathological etiology for hiccups occurs when the lower part of the esophagus (food pipe), nearest to the stomach, becomes irritated. In this category, the most common causes include acid reflux, peptic ulcers, and gastritis; some less common causes include esophageal or stomach cancer. But, in these cases, patients usually experience other symptoms – it’s rare that hiccups are the only manifestation.

At times the hiccups can occur after surgery and this can be multifactorial – mainly due to the location of surgery on the abdomen, the intubation for anesthesia, and other forms of anesthetics used during surgery.

C – Infections and Inflammations:

Other causes of pathological hiccups are inflammations in the throat and chest such as pharyngitis (sore throat), pneumonia (lung infection), bronchitis ( infection of the airways), pericarditis( heart membrane inflammation), and sometimes heart attacks.

D – Medication-induced Hiccups:

Aside from other pathological conditions, sometimes hiccups can be a side effect of a medication. For example, some cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy develop hiccups as a side effect of the chemotherapy medications. Certain anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy) such as: levofolinate, fluorouracil, oxaliplatin, carboplatin, is and irinotecan are associated more with hiccups.

Dexamethasone in some cases cause hiccups as well. This drug is used for various indications including brain edema and reducing chemotherapy-induced side effects. Discontinuation of dexamethasone or switching from dexamethasone to other corticosteroids have been reported to relieve hiccups.

The last class of medications that can cause hiccups are sedatives and pain killers. Medications such as diazepam, midazolam, barbiturates, and tramadol are included in this category.

E – Electrolyte and metabolic causes:

Kidney and liver malfunction can cause an accumulation of some toxins and imbalance of several electrolytes in the body. A known toxic metabolite of the body is urea, which will remain in the body when there’s kidney failure. This high urea, named uremia, can manifest as hiccups. Other electrolytes and gasses in the blood play an important role in the body’s metabolism and an imbalance of these substances can cause hiccups. Electrolytes and gas conditions such as hypokalemia (low potassium), hyponatremia (low sodium), hypocalcemia (low calcium), and hypocapnia (low carbon dioxide).

F – Psychogenic Hiccups:

Anxiety, stress, excitement, and malingering can be other triggers for the hiccups. However, psychogenic causes of hiccups should be considered only after a thorough evaluation has been completed looking for other medical causes. One way that we, as physicians, can differentiate the psychogenic hiccups from true hiccups is that they persist during sleep, but the psychogenic hiccups will only occur when awake.

Here’s a summary of possible causes:

Central nervous system causes:

  • Strokes – especially at the medulla of the brain
  • Head injures
  • Brain tumors
  • Irritation of Vagus or Phrenic nerves with impact on the Gastrointestinal system:
    • Acid Reflux
    • Gastritis
    • Peptic Ulcer
    • Gastric cancer
    • Gastric distention:
      • Eating fast
      • Swallowing air while chewing gum
      • Smoking
      • Overeating
      • Eating spicy foods
      • Drinking carbonated beverages
      • Drinking alcohol
      • Sudden changes in ambient or gastrointestinal temperature

Medication-induced:

  • Dexamethason
  • Diazepam
  • Midazolam
  • Tramadol
  • Barbiturates
  • Alpha methyldopa
  • Certain anti-cancer drugs (chemotherapy), including:
    • Levofolinate
    • fluorouracil
    • oxaliplatin
    • carboplatin
    • irinotecan

After some surgeries involving the:

  • Phrenic nerve
  • Esophagus
  • Diaphragm.

Toxic-Metabolic:

  • Uremia (kidney disease)
  • Hyponatremia (Low Sodium)
  • Hypokalemia (Low Potassium)
  • Hypocalcemia (Low Calcium)
  • Hypocapnia (Low CO2)

Psychogenic factors:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Excitement
  • Malingering