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There is a popular belief that scaring a hiccuping person would cure the hiccups.

Is it true?

  • Perhaps the scream from being frightened causes the person to "eject" the gas in their stomach? – jingtao Nov 17 '13 at 12:56
  • @jingtao I am sure if there is an effect it has something to do with the adrenalin release. That can cause muscle convulsion resetting reparation. (according to some NPR show those 2 are evolutionary related) – Andrey Nov 18 '13 at 15:09
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According to the NYU Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology, there are a variety of methods that have successfully resulted in a cessation of hicupping including;

  1. Eating hard to swallow items such as granulated sugar or molasses
  2. Sucking on ice cubes
  3. Gagging with purpose
  4. The 'Valsalva maneuver' (e.g. holding your breath and bearing down, as you might when having a bowel movement
  5. Breathing into a bag
  6. Gasping with purpose

In a case report published in 2000 entitled "Sexual intercourse as potential treatment for intractable hiccups" Drs Aya Peleg and Roni Peleg discuss a 40-year-old man who was suddenly cured of a four-day case of the hiccups when he ejaculated during intercourse with his wife.

The authors speculated the unexpected cure worked for the same reason as the scare method: "A mechanism similar to this occurs when someone is startled, resulting theoretically in sympathetic stimulation that might lead to a cessation of hiccups,"

I'd also like to add on a personal note that over the years I have repeatedly scared students out of hiccups by making loud noises behind them. While I'm aware the the plural of anecdote isn't data, I can assure you that it does work.

  • It says "this mechanism of action has not been proved" right in the next sentence. – Quassnoi Jan 5 '14 at 1:05

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