Curing hiccups

I was once told of a man who had hiccups for three weeks, night and day. I get hiccups occasionally, and over the years I have come to try different methods for getting rid of them. For a while I tried swallowing a spoonful of sugar, dry, with surprisingly good results. Eventually the time came when it didn’t work, and I just ended up with mouthful of sugar… and hiccups. Not wanting to try the sugar again, I’d get someone to give me a shock — but I’d just end up shocked, with a mouthful of sugar, and hiccups, like something out of The Producers.

Last night when I had hiccups I used the method I’ve been using for the last few times, and it hasn’t (yet) failed me. It is a variation on “hold your breath” with a hint of ventriloquist’s dummy mixed in.

Apparatus: 1 glass containing a small amount of water

Method: using whichever hand you do not use for raising a glass to your mouth, hold your nose (as if about to dive off the side of a boat). With nose held, use remaining hand to bring the glass to your mouth, and drink a very small sip of water. Repeat.

The first sip is the one where the pressure in your ears will feel funny: ignore this. Depending on your tolerance to mild sensations of drowning, the fourth or fifth sip will make you want to stop and take a breath. Best to carry on until you really aren’t enjoying it, or until there is no water left in the glass (this is why “small amount of water” is listed in the apparatus, not “glass of water”).

Conclusion: As for why it works, the explanation I’ve seen is that all the swallowing-without-air tires out your diaphragm, and this makes it decide not to waste energy on making you amusingly unable to speak.

So, there you have it. The secret is revealed. If only the man who had hiccups for three weeks had known.

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