Sierra Pisenti had noisy hiccups for hours. They disrupted their day, embarrassed them, and sounded a bit like burps.
The 27-year-old mother tried to swallow water, eat a spoonful of sugar, and stand on her head.
“I’ve tried every method I can think of to look and either make them go away temporarily or make them go away, but then, you know, they’ll be back the next day,” said Pisenti.
A cheap device that some call a cure for hiccups finally gave her some relief.
HiccAway was patented in 2017. A recent study published in the influential JAMA Network Open found that more than 90% of people who used it relieved hiccups and worked better than home remedies.
Users don’t need extreme hiccups for it to work.
HiccAway is a plastic straw with a mouthpiece on one end and an adjustable pressure valve on the other. Adults need more pressure and children need less to suck the water through the straw and drink it so the brain can reset itself and the hiccups go away.
The device was found to work for both adults and children. HiccAway is $ 14 and is available from retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
HiccAway works best for those with regular hiccups, according to its inventor Dr. Ali Seifi, a neurosurgeon.
Seifi began to think about how he could relieve hiccups when he saw them plague a patient after brain surgery.
“The patient was so frustrated,” said Seifi. “Imagine someone just had brain surgery, but their hiccups were their main pain, not their brain surgery.”
When Seifi watched his son eat a McFlurry with a spoon at McDonald’s, an idea occurred to him.
“I noticed he took a lot of pressure trying to drink or eat from it. And then it occurred to me that this could be something that I can use as a tool, ”he said.
For several years he experimented with different dimensions and suction pressures using 3D printed materials rehearse. Finally he found the right design and patented it.
Hiccups begin with a spasm of the diaphragm muscle, which is located below the lungs. The spasm sends an impulse to the brain and the brain sends an impulse down the throat, Seifi explained.
“So I thought if I can somehow keep those two muscles busy doing something else at the same time, they might forget about it or they might not have enough time to go to those cramps,” he said.
People with chronic hiccups may need medication or surgery, Seifi said.
There is a great demand for help with hiccups; Two of the top 10 health-related Google searches are questions about hiccups and how to get rid of them.
HiccAway made a difference for Pisenti. She is now carrying the device in her handbag.
“Now I don’t feel like I’m scared when I go out. I don’t have to go to my car or apologize to the bathroom, I pretty much run away because I’m so embarrassed, ”said Pisenti. “All I have to do is just drink water and I won’t have to worry anymore.”