A bout of hiccups can be so annoying, right? It can be pretty embarrassing too, especially if it starts while you’re in class or in the middle of a conversation and that horrible “hic” just cuts into what you were saying. For most, a bout of hiccups can just go away on its own, but for others it can be caused by medication or it could be a side effect of surgery.
A bout of hiccups might go away if you try holding your breath for as long as you can or sipping water while pinching your nose but sometimes it can be pretty stubborn, and those cures aren’t exactly the most reliable. Don’t worry– Ali Seifi, a neuro-intensive care physician from the University of Texas at San Antonio, might have the solution you’re looking for: the HiccAway straw.
HiccAway straw is also called the forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool, or FISST for short, but HiccAway just sounds catchier, don’t you think? This special straw costs $14.
So how can this $14 straw cure your hiccups? Here’s the science behind it.
Hiccups start when the diaphragm spasms, which starts a chain reaction when the vagus nerve panics and quickly closes the epiglottis at the back of your throat, resulting in that “hic” sound you make. So your hiccups are like an emergency reflex.
HiccAway is inspired by the thick spoon/straw utensil that McDonald’s uses to mix and serve their yummy McFlurry desserts.
It has a big opening at the top where users put their mouths, and then at the bottom it has a small hole, so sipping from this straw requires a lot of suction to pull your drink up through it.
So when you try to sip from the straw, your abdomen is lowered and your epiglottis closes, which then stimulates the vagus and the phrenic, the two nerves that controls those parts of your body. The stimulation of the two nerves functions as some sort of reset for the brain so the hiccups will stop.
In a recent study, the inventors of HiccAway reported that of 203 participants in a a survey about the effectiveness of the straw they tested, over 90% responded that it was effective for relieving a bout of hiccups.
HiccAway isn’t a 100% guarantee that your hiccups will go away permanently though, and it doesn’t work for everyone. It costs $14, but for that price you can get a temporary solution for a condition that might not be possible to cure permanently.
Well, if you’re not sure about how effective this straw can be, it’s understandable. In that case, Seifi suggests that you can make your own HiccAway using McDonald’s spoon/straw utensil. Just make the hole at the top smaller and voila – you have a makeshift HiccAway!
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