Can a "Boo" banish hiccups?

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You’re hiccupping away, and suddenly your friend pops out from around a corner and yells “Boo!” Is your friend being helpful or just being a jerk? It depends on how you react. Being scared can stop hiccups. That’s because when you gasp, as you would when you’re startled, you interrupt the respiratory cycle. This jolt to the nervous system can reset the nerve impulse to your diaphragm and get your breathing back to normal.

Next time you have hiccups, ask someone to scare you. Just relax and try not to anticipate the moment. Interestingly, while a well-timed “Boo!” can frighten away hiccups, shock and fear may also trigger them.

 

Simple ways to win relief

Hiccups wreak havoc with your normal breathing process. To make them go away, try these three simple breathing techniques.

  • Bag it. One popular — and effective — remedy involves breathing into a paper bag. This works by boosting the levels of carbon diox- ide in your blood. As carbon dioxide levels go up, hiccups tend to clear up. Hold a brown paper bag around your nose and mouth and quickly breathe in and out about 15 times. Then take a deep breath, hold it for about 10 seconds, and breathe out. Repeat until the hiccups stop.
  • Hold it. Simply holding your breath can help. By interrupting the respiratory cycle, you nudge your nervous system back on track. Sneezing or coughing may also do the trick.
  • Triple it. Three’s company when it comes to hiccup remedies. A cure called “supra-supra-maximal inspiration,” described by doctors at the New York University School of Medicine, involves inhaling three times in a row. First, take a deep breath and hold it for 10 sec- onds. Without exhaling, breathe in again, pause, and then breathe in a third time. It’s sort of a combination of breathing into a paper bag and holding your breath because you’re increasing your carbon dioxide levels and interrupting the respiratory cycle.

No matter which breathing trick you choose, relief is only a few breaths away — and with hiccups out of the way, you can breathe a lot easier.

 

Old-fashioned cures and proven home remedies

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  • FC&A Staff Writer