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Can curing hiccups really be as simple as sipping water through this L-shaped straw device? Photography courtesy of HiccAway
  • Many home remedies can be used to stop annoying hiccups.
  • But a new device called the HiccAway promises to work better than any of them.
  • The inventor of the device says it showed 90 percent better performance than traditional home remedies in his study.
  • However, there were some problems with the study, including the lack of a control group.

When you get hiccups, what’s your favorite cure? Maybe you drink a glass of cold water or you breathe into a paper bag?

Dr. Ali Seifi, FNCS, FCCM, an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, says he has invented something better than any home remedy: a drinking straw that cures hiccups.

His device, called the HiccAway, uses the scientific principles behind hiccups to cure them in a simple but effective way.

Seifi said that hiccups are a vicious cycle that starts with a sudden spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that controls breathing. This causes the sudden closure of a valve-shaped structure in the throat called the epiglottis, leading to the “hic” sound we know as hiccups.

The HiccAway is a straw-shaped tool that has a pressure valve inside it that requires higher than usual suction in order to draw water through it.

This higher amount of suction requires maximum effort from the diaphragm, he said, which stops the diaphragm from spasming.

In addition, when the water enters the throat, the epiglottis is triggered to close in order to keep water out of the lungs. This contraction helps put a halt to spasms of the epiglottis.

Seifi said that not only does it work, but it works better than home remedies.

In fact, it showed 90 percent better performance than all of these remedies in a study that he and his team conducted.

Seifi said the device was able to put a halt to hiccups in nearly 92 percent of the volunteers studied.

Over 90 percent of the study volunteers also said that it was more convenient than other home remedies, and 183 out of 203 people said it gave better results.

The reason it works better, Seifi said, is that most home remedies work on only one of the two muscles targeted by the HiccAway.

Also, the home remedies often don’t reach the degree of vacuum pressure that’s needed to stop the spasm.

The HiccAway targets both muscles simultaneously. It also reaches the needed pressure.

However, Dr. Neel K. Bhatt, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, said that the level of evidence supporting the device’s efficacy is low.

The data suggest that this device may be better than traditional home remedies, he said, but it’s not proven.

“There is a strong possibility that participants were biased to favor the device over home remedies,” he explained.

“In addition, it’s not clear which other home remedies (if any) were previously tried by participants. For these reasons, it is difficult to conclude that the device is superior to traditional home remedies.”

He further pointed out that there was no control group of people who did not use the device, for comparison.

However, he does feel the device is “worth a try,” especially for people who have mild hiccups.

He pointed out that there appears to be minimal risk in using the HiccAway, especially when compared with the medications that are sometimes used for severe cases of hiccups.

In addition to medications, nerve blocks and acupuncture are sometimes tried for intractable hiccups, or those lasting longer than 2 months, said Bhatt, but none of these treatments can reliably cure hiccups in all cases.

Seifi said the HiccAway is available for purchase all around the world. It’s currently available on Amazon and through the official HiccAway website for $14.

Seifi added the HiccAway will also be available in retail stores very soon.