A straw against hiccups, the cure is instant

Scientists have found a remedy that promises to be effective in 92% of cases. It is a plastic device costing about 12 euros

Remedies to cure hiccups are countless, from holding your breath, to drinking in small sips to resorting to someone to give a scare. Some scientists, however, have finally found a cure that promises to be effective in 92% of cases. It is a special L-shaped straw, made of plastic, which would cost 10 British pounds, about 11.70 euros. The device has been named HiccAway, which in Italian could be translated "Non piĆ¹ Hic". The idea is that the enhanced suction to sip water with this tool requires the phrenic nerve to trigger a contraction of the diaphragm, while the subsequent swallowing would activate the vagus nerve. The two nerves are responsible for hiccups and, by keeping them busy, scientists believe that it is possible to stop the phenomenon.

How the anti-hiccup straw works

The anti-hiccup straw has a mouthpiece at the top and a pressure valve at the bottom. This mechanism makes it so that to drink water you have to suck forcefully going to cause the contraction of the diaphragm and stop the uncontrollable flow of air that causes hiccups going to slam rhythmically against the vocal cords. Dr. Ali Seifi, an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and co-author of the study, said the system "works instantly and the effect remains for several hours."

To test the device, the team analyzed the reactions of 249 volunteers, more than two-thirds of whom claimed to have had hiccups at least once a month. The results were published in the journal Jama Network Open and revealed that the special straw stopped the hiccups in nearly 92% of cases. Moreover, more than 90% of the participants considered the device more convenient than other home remedies. Scientists also pointed out that the results held across all demographics, hiccup frequencies and hiccup duration. However, the study has limitations: it didn't include a control group and was based on self-reported results.

In any case, early observations have yielded more than positive responses, and the anti-hiccup straw could become a new tool to combat the unintentional annoyance. Remaining in theme of innovative instruments, instead, a Japanese team has invented special headphones that allow to measure the level of alcohol in the blood.

Stefania Bernardini