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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Note On Emerging Science: A Fix For Hiccups

Air Date: Week of

There are many home remedies for “curing” hiccups, though they are rarely backed by science. Pictured is a hiccuper drinking water while others cover his ears. (Photo: Radrice, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

For most of us hiccups may be just an occasional annoyance, but they can greatly reduce quality of life for people suffering stroke and brain injury, and some chemotherapies can cause frequent hiccups. Now at last there may be a solid treatment. Living on Earth’s Tivara Tanudjaja reports on how researchers have developed a tool to help halt hiccup spasms.


CURWOOD: Just ahead we’ll have our weekly trip beyond the headlines but first this note on emerging science from Tivara Tanudjaja.


We all have our own theories on how to cure hiccups, like breathing into a bag, getting surprised or holding your breath for a time…

They don’t always work for everyone, but researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have found something that might just do the job.

They have created a science-based intervention for hiccups called the Forced Inspiratory Suction and Swallow Tool.

It’s a drinking tube with a valve that requires forceful suction to draw water from the cup and into the mouth. It’s much like trying to drink through a blocked straw. And by stimulating the phrenic and vagus nerves, the suction and swallow action ends the “hiccup spasms.”

According to their survey, the drinking tube helped stop hiccups in nearly 92% of cases.

For most of us, hiccups are an occasional annoyance, but for others, hiccups can greatly reduce quality of life. For example, some chemotherapies can cause frequent hiccups. Researchers hope the tool will help cancer patients as well as those suffering stroke and brain injury.

Although the drinking tube must still undergo clinical trials, researchers are hopeful the tool would help with both the occasional and frequent hiccups. They hope to scale up and make it available to the public in the near future.

That’s this week’s note on emerging science, I’m Tivara Tanudjaja.



EurekaAlert! | “Team Describes Science-Based Hiccups Intervention”


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