to go straight to Billy's hiccup cure
- Billy is no medical expert and this page contains
opinionated content. If you have good cause to enlighten Billy, please
and he will gladly
consider warranted corrections.
There is quite a mystery about hiccups. Medical knowledge seems to be rather
limited about their causes, and cures. So it is not surprising that many home
remedies remain popular, even if they blatantly don't work.
Have you ever been shocked out of your hiccups? If so, please let me know
According to the NHS, hiccups "don't seem to have a useful purpose". This can be
translated as "we haven't a clue what they're for".
According to the Phylogenetic hypothesis, hiccups are an evolutionary remnant of
earlier amphibian respiration. That's only 250 million years out of date then.
As far as I know we all get short term hiccups. These are sometimes humorous,
sometimes irritating. This page deals with short term hiccups.
However there is a rare but more sinister version which is not humorous at all.
Persistent hiccups are those which continue for longer than 48 hours and these
usually result from an underlying medical cause. They can be positively
debilitating and can prevent the sufferer from working, sleeping, eating and
performing many ordinary functions of life. If you have hiccups which last for
longer than 48 hours, please seek medical advice without further delay.
Hiccups seems to be associated with the phasing of swallowing and breathing in
mammals. Swallowing is a complex process which involves four different
neurological mechanisms which must be correctly coordinated to enable a bolus
to pass from the mouth to the oesophagus without entering the trachea. If we
fail to close the trachea we risk aspirating part of the bolus into the trachea
which we know as "going down the wrong way" and produces a powerful cough reflex
to clear the airway. In extreme cases, a piece of food can block the trachea
which causes choking.
Normally we unconsciously time our swallow to occur at the moment when we have
fully inhaled, and momentarily hold our breath while the epiglottis closes our
airway and the bolus passes cleanly into the oesophagus. This allows us to
remain fully oxygenated during swallowing, and prevents us from aspirating
which may happen if we inhaled as we swallowed. It also ensures we have a
lungful of air in case we get it wrong and need a good strong cough.
My hypothesis is that failing to synchronise swallowing with inhaled
breath-holding risks hiccups, and that re-synchronising swallowing with inhaled
breath-holding can cure hiccups.
Many causes of hiccups are given in the usual references. A great many of
them are associated with mis-phasing our swallowing and breathing. Let's examine
some of the commonly cited causes of hiccups. All of these involve a disruption
in the ordered synchonisation to our swallowing and breathing. It is important
to remember that we swallow not only when we eat or drink, but regularly swallow
|Commonly Cited Cause
|Eating or drinking quickly
||If we eat too quickly we swallow too soon rather than at peak
||Alcohol produces a general loss of coordination which is required to
synchronise swallowing with breathing.
|Sudden excitement or shock
||Excitement or shock can cause an involuntary inhalation which can
interrupt our synchronisation.
|A sudden change in temperature
||This can cause a shock induced inhalation.
||Surprising food taste or temperature can also cause a shock induced
|Carbonated (fizzy) drinks
||Fizzy drinks commonly cause regurgitated air (burping) which interrupts
both swallowing and breathing functions.
||Swallowing air also causes regurgitation (burping).
||Smokers often exhale while drawing smoke into their mouth. Tobacco smoke
promotes salivation and if the smoker swallows immediately prior to inhaling
the smoke then the swallow will occur during full exhalation. This is exactly
opposite to our normal synchronisation.
The other piece of supporting evidence is the success of Billy's cure as described
below which resynchronises swallowing and breathing functions.
Billy's cure simply involves relaxing and resynchronising breathing and
swallowing. It's a simple step-by-step process which I've found to work on
- Sit somewhere quiet and calm.
- Breath in SLOWLY until your chest is full.
- Breath out SLOWLY until your chest is empty.
- Breath in SLOWLY until your chest is full and hold your breath.
- Swallow three times.
- Breath out SLOWLY until your chest is empty.
- Gently breath again normally.
- If you still hiccup, repeat the process once more.
Does this work for you? If so then pass it on. If it doesn't,
then please let me know
and what worked in the end.