Thread: Physics Nobel.
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Old 2006-10-08, 07:30   #4
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"Richard B. Woods"
Aug 2002
Wisconsin USA

22·3·641 Posts

Originally Posted by mfgoode View Post
But seriously speaking I learnt in my travels in the Himalayan foothills that a very reliable cure for hiccups, even chronic, is to put both the little fingers in the ears, one in each and breathe normally. Holding the breath is even better. It wont take long before the hiccups vanish. I have personally found this to work marvellously and effectively.

I suppose a little faith in the method is part of the cure.
Yes, it is. Hiccups are caused, I have read, by a feedback loop in the nervous system that gets established (involving the vagus nerve, it seems) under certain conditions. The key to stopping hiccups is to interrupt this feedback loop, which can be done by a variety of methods, both physical and psychological.

Each of the methods described in this thread accomplishes the goal of interrupting the feedback loop. I used to use the holding-my-breath technique on myself, after finding the sipping-water-slowly method not as effective. (See below for improvement.)

Interestingly, I learned from my former wife, when we were married, a technique (invented by someone else) for stopping someone else's hiccups without physically contacting that person (though it does require visual and verbal communication). She used to ask me to do it whenever she got the hiccups. It's purely psychological and quite amazing or amusing, depending on whether you've seen it before. I've used it to help stop hiccups in people other than my wife, such as co-workers, and of course it also works on myself (though then it's both physical and psychological).

First I ask the hiccuper to concentrate his/her attention on me as I perform the technique. His/her concentration is important -- its level determines the success of the method. Then I adopt a serious but relaxed attitude, take a deep breath, then simultaneously hold my breath and slowly rub both my temples with my fingers for as long as possible before I have to breathe again. Usually, by the time I breathe again, the other person's hiccups have ceased. If the first time doesn't work, I re-explain that his/her total concentration on me is necessary, then I do it again. I can't recall ever needing to do it more than twice, but one could if necessary. After success, I totally explain the method to the recovered hiccuper so he/she can pass it on (and understand its scientific basis, not think it's magic).

As you can see, Mally, it's similar to a combination of the two methods you mention, plus an extra psychological component. Rubbing my temples is probably more effective in holding the other person's attention than putting my fingers in my ears would be.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2006-10-08 at 07:44
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