Cumberland Times-News

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June 28, 2014

Hiccup cure you may find hard to swallow

Let’s give a cheer for one of the things in the human experience that the scientific researchers haven’t fully figured out yet: how to cure hiccups! Somehow it kind of restores your faith in the world, doesn’t it?

But don’t think they haven’t tried.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post by Meeri Kim, Internist Tyler Cymet (head of medical education at the American Association of Osteopathic Medicine) performed a 5-year study of 54 hospital patients from 1995. He found that NOTHING works to stop the hiccups. “I think the jury is in that nothing works; it starts and stops on its own, and that’s about it,” he says.

Well, have I got news for him!

I have a simple cure that works (for me) every time. Stay with me a while and I’ll reveal it, right here on this page. Free of charge, but you have to pay by reading the rest of this column. (When you only have two readers, you’ll do anything to add one.)

I offer this blessing to you simply for the good of mankind. And I won’t even expect to receive the Nobel Peace Prize because it is so simple really.

But first, let’s look at hiccups.

Basically a sudden contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles is followed by the snapping shut of the glottis. At the same time you try to breathe, and goodbye Charlie! The inhalation bangs into the closed larynx, and it doesn’t have a chance.

Hiccups have a long and notable history. Napoleon, trying to invade Russia, was captured and decided to make a last stand before he died in front of his captors. He took medicine to help him along the way. Bet you didn’t know it gave him hiccups. To quote my source, “So here he was, a short Corsican kid, with a great mind and a lousy stomach” who had come up just short of ruling the world, and was totally unable to speak for himself before his enemies. Now that’s a sad story. Shortly afterward he went into exile in Elba, and you know the rest. At least, I hope you do — history is not a favorite study in today’s world. (Now, see what you miss?)

Pope Pius XII also had bouts with hiccups that severely affected his last days. And a young girl named Jennifer Mee was on the Today Show in 2007 for her hiccup history — although she later made more history that put her in jail for the rest of her life. Totally unrelated to hiccups.

Hiccups are known as an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, or, if you prefer, a myoclonic jerk. (I knew one of those once, but I won’t reveal his name.)

Medicine calls it a “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.” It is believed by some doctors to be a remnant of earlier human amphibian respiration, an evolutionary step to modern lung breathing. Even unborn babies get them, but, interestingly, they often get rarer as you age.

Typical cures, that seem to work for some people, are standing on your head (yours not mine), pulling your tongue, gargling, and eating peanut butter. I must say, none of them ever worked for me. Still, I haven’t had a spell in years (knock on wood), and I attribute this to a popular remedy with just one little twist that has made all the difference to me.

I hold my breath. OK, nothing new about that. But here’s the difference: the minute I start to hold my breath, I concentrate on pushing the next hiccup down in my throat, and not letting it come up out of my mouth. And I mean “concentrate.” Close your eyes if you must.

And I also mean “push!” Something like childbirth but not exactly.This isn’t something you do while watching television, or tweeting about how you’re trying a new cure for hiccups. You have to create your own little world of hiccup-rejection. You may have to go for it twice, or even three times at first. But hiccups aren’t stupid. They know when the end is near. Almost always I have managed to get it closed down after one hiccup.

This works.

Or at least it always has for me!

Let me know how it comes out for you.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on Sundays in the Times-News.

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