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HiccAway – The Plastic Straw That Can Instantly Cure Hiccups

By Klifting, Jun 25, 2021, 9:45 AM

Described as a “forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool”, HiccAway is essentially a special type of plastic straw scientifically designed to almost instantly cure hiccups. According to a new study, the L-shaped tool works in 92% of cases.

When we get the hiccups, our diaphragm and intercostal muscles suddenly contract, and the abrupt intake of air causes the opening between the vocal folds to produce that “hic” sounds every one of us has experienced at least once in our lives. Luckily, simply using the HiccAway to sip a bit of water from a glass apparently cures the hiccups almost instantly.

The HiccAway straw has a mouthpiece at one end and an adjustable cap with a pressure valve, in the form of a small hole, at the other. The intense suction required to draw water up through the device requires the phrenic nerve to trigger a contraction of the diaphragm, while swallowing the water involves activation of the vagus nerve. 

Dr. Ali Seifi, a neurointensivist from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, came up with the design for the HiccAway after seeing his son’s McFlurry ice cream spoon. In fact, he says people can try to make one from a McFlurry spoon by sealing up most of the small hole at the top, to increase suction pressure. Or, you can just buy the real thing, for $14.

“It works instantly and the effect stays for several hours,” Dr Seifi told The Guardian newspaper, adding that the HiccAway works by essentially making our brain forget to keep spasming that diaphragm.

To evaluate the efficacy of his invention, Dr. Seifi co-authored a study published in the JAMA Network, which analyzed responses from 249 volunteers – over two-thirds of whom said they had hiccups at least once a month – who used the HiccAway. Results showed that it stopped hiccups in 92% of cases.

To prove that his devices isn’t just a gimmick, Seifi is planning a gold standard randomized controlled trial with hiccup experts in Switzerland and Japan. He plans to test HiccAway tools against plastic decoys, by giving them both to hiccup sufferers.