Drinking device claimed to help halt hiccups
Although hiccups are a temporary nuisance for most of us, they can be a major problem for people who experience them chronically. There may be new hope for such folks, though, in the form of what is essentially a fancy drinking straw.
The device was developed at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, by a team led by Assoc. Prof. Ali Seifi. It's called the FISST, which stands for "forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool."
The gadget has a hollow rigid tubular body with an angled mouthpiece at the top, and two small but differently sized holes at the bottom. By sliding a tab, users can open one of these holes or the other – the larger hole is for adult users, while the smaller one is for children.
To utilize the FISST, patients just stick its lower end in a glass of water, then suck that water in and swallow it via the mouthpiece. The forceful sucking action – along with the swallowing – is said to stimulate the phrenic and vagus nerves, cause the diaphragm muscle to contract, and cause the epiglottis in the throat to close. All of these factors reportedly combine to cease the hiccup-causing spasms.
When tested on 249 volunteers who frequently experienced hiccups, the device was said to stop almost 92 percent of hiccup attacks. Additionally, 226 of the participants stated that they found the FISST easy to use. It should be noted that 70 percent of test subjects were over 18 years old, almost 80 percent were caucasian, and there was roughly a 50/50 male/female split.
Plans now call for the tool to be the subject of double-blind clinical trials in the US and Europe, in which half of the participants will unknowingly be using a non-functional sham device. It is already commercially available as the HiccAway, with prices starting at US$14 for a single unit. User reviews on the product website are mainly complimentary, although a few people have stated that it didn't work for them.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal JAMA Network Open.