“How do you get rid of the hiccups?”
I love that question, especially when it’s posed to a group of friends or, even better, at a party. By asking such an innocent question you quickly become the sole focus of all the world-renowned hiccup experts within a 50 foot radius. They approach you. They swarm you. They attack you. All coming to the rescue out of an earnest belief that they know the cure for hiccups. They start shouting their instructions, all totally absurd and completely hilarious to anyone watching this exorcism of the demonic entity. LET THE HEALING BEGIN!
There’s the one girl, the little ninja, who will not stop sneaking up behind you in attempts to scare the hiccups away. There’s the one guy, the recreational hunter, who keeps dancing around you in anguish, imploring you to let him concentrate all your focus on something unbearably frightening by holding the tip of his pocket knife to your open palm. There’s that other girl, the hard-nosed lady cop from the new hit show on TNT, who interrogates you with a relentless barrage of questions to distract the hiccups away. Then there’s that other guy, the circus ringmaster, who believes the more actions performed the better: “Hold your breath! Now do body-weight squats! Now focus on your form! Now think about reciting the alphabet backwards! Now juggle these flaming torches! KEEP GOING!” And as you do all these things there’s that weird girl, the Paula Deen wannabe, who for some reason believes that shoveling lemon juice and pickles down your throat is surely the best method for success.
The irony in all of this is that by the time you have attempted the myriad healing methods, and by the time the hiccups have finally ceased, you feel transitory relief before it is washed over by a surge of frustration brought on by uncertainty: Which one of those methods actually worked? Or did my hiccups cease simply because they (eventually) always do?
In addition to the problem of not knowing which method actually works (if any), there is the other problem: when you have the hiccups but your friends are not around and you are in a public setting, all of the aforementioned methods look ridiculous and are thus totally embarrassing. If you performed any of those methods in public then you would look like a legitimate maniac. Passersby might phone the authorities out of a serious concern for your well-being.
So maybe you should try a hiccup-ceasing method that you can perform in public without anyone noticing. And one that actually works all by itself without the simultaneous assistance of other “cures.” Ready for it? Okay, here it is: hold your breath.
WHAT?! You’ve already heard of that one? Oh. Well, so had I, but unbeknownst to me, I was doing it the wrong way — I used to take a deep breath IN before holding my breath. Until today, that is.
Today, I was walking down the sidewalk when the hiccups hit me. As usual, I immediately performed the ol’ inhale-and-hold-your-breath method, but — as usual — it didn’t work. So I decided to try something new: instead of breathing IN before holding my breath, I breathed OUT. I EXHALED. And I did not breath back in; I kept all the air out. And I kept walking down the sidewalk. And it worked immediately. My hiccups were gone within 15 seconds. Probably less. FACT.
So how and why did this EXHALE-and-hold-your-breath method work? I’m not totally sure, and I’m not a scientist, but I assume it’s a combination of these two factors:
1) scaring your brain — something that would certainly earn the approval of “the little ninja” and “the recreational hunter” — by consciously inducing a bodily state worthy of panic (i.e. expelling all air from your lungs to make the brain panic and say “Holy crap I have no air in my lungs but I am walking and I need some air for this activity!”)
2) the complete absence of oxygen in the lungs (because hiccuping happens when the diaphragm and nearby muscles convulse, but muscles don’t work very well in the complete absence of oxygen, so maybe no oxygen = no muscles convulsing = no hiccuping)
To be completely honest with you, though, I don’t care how it worked. All I care about is that it worked. Now that you know how I was able to get rid of hiccups in 15 seconds, you can try it the next time you get the hiccups. Just hold your breath, but remember: don’t breath IN; breath OUT.
Breath out to get them out. Good luck!
– Jonah Lundberg
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