This (..Hic...) Is Cool!

This Invention Could End Hiccups For Good

There are dozens of home remedy “fixes” to eliminate hiccups, but there's one product that promises to work every time, and it's backed by science.

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Young kid playing video games, holding a controller and wearing headphones while hiccupping.

As an adult, hiccups suck. They can be painful, last longer than we anticipate, and never know when they will strike. With hiccups being as annoying as they are to adults, parents know that hiccups can feel even more terrible for our kids — especially when there are almost no easy ways to stop hiccups in their tracks.

There are dozens of home remedy “fixes” to eliminate hiccups, like drinking water while holding your ear, having someone scare you, or holding your breath for 20 seconds, but these are really hit-or-miss. If your kiddo gets frequent hiccups and you’re both frustrated, one inventor and scientist says he’s developed the perfect fix for hiccups.

What is the product that stops hiccups?

Ali Seifi, a scientist and professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, developed a product that he says actually stops hiccups in their tracks. The patented device, called HiccAway, looks like a straw but is constructed in the right way to stop hiccups scientifically.

But does the invention of this product mean that our tried-and-true home remedies are worthless? Absolutely not.

"All of the current home remedies have science behind them," Seifi told The Atlantic. "All of them are valid! They just don’t reach the threshold where they can stop that cycle all the time, so it’s hit-and-miss.”

So he created his device using the same science as those home remedies, but he claims that his solution is consistently accurate — making it more effective than grabbing that spoonful of sugar.

How do you use the straw?

To use the product, all you have to do is stick the straw in a less-than-half-full glass of water. Then, you “forcibly sip for 3 seconds from the mouthpiece and immediately swallow, in one breath.” Repeat two or three times without stopping. The website says this should knock the hiccups out entirely — but you can do it “up to 2 additional times” if needed.

Why does the straw work?

Seifi told The Atlantic the HiccAway utilizes the reverse physics behind “Bernoulli’s Principal.” “Imagine you have a water hose, and you open the faucet,” Seifi explained. “If you put half your thumb in front of the hose, the flow stays the same, but by changing the diameter [of the end of the hose], the speed of the fluid changes; it ejects more.” He also co-authored a research letter on his straw design in June 2021 that was published in JAMA Network Open.

But why does the product work? Instead of the bottom and top of the straw being the same size, as normal straws usually are, the bottom of Seifi’s HiccAway straw is smaller than the top, providing the pressure needed to stop hiccups — so a regular straw won’t do the trick.

“To get any water through the straw, the user has to exert an unusually large amount of suction, which means generating pressure in the diaphragm,” The Atlantic explains. “Seifi was able to calculate the required dimensions for the pinhole at the bottom, the opening at the top, and the length of the straw, such that getting water into the mouth required exerting exactly 100 centimeters of water pressure.”

That pressure stimulates two nerves responsible for hiccups. Stimulating these nerves — the vagus and phrenic nerves — tells the brain to stop the hiccups. And thus, your pesky condition — the one that seems like it lasts forever, and at the worst time — is gone. Don’t say it’s magic!

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