Team describes science-based hiccup intervention

PICTURE: The forced inspiratory suction and swallowing tool shown here is designed to stop hiccups on one or two attempts. It was developed at the University of Texas Health Science Center … view More

Photo credit: Image courtesy of JAMA Network Open

SAN ANTONIO (June 18, 2021) – Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) and colleagues around the world describe a new science-based intervention for hiccups JAMA in a research letter published June 18 in the journal – Network open.

In the publication, the scientists coined a new term for the procedure: the “forced inspiratory suction and swallowing tool” or FISST. The team also reported the results of a survey of 249 users asked if home remedies for hiccups like breathing in a paper bag were superior.

The need

“The occasional hiccup is annoying for some people, but it makes a significant difference to the quality of life for others,” said Ali Seifi, MD, associate professor of neurosurgery at Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, UT Health San Antonio. “This includes many patients with brain injuries, stroke injuries and cancer patients. We had some cancer patients in this study. Some chemotherapy treatments cause hiccups.”

Simple tool

FISST is a rigid drinking tube with an inlet valve that requires vigorous suction to draw water from a mug into your mouth. Sucking and swallowing simultaneously stimulate two nerves, the diaphragmatic and vagus nerves, to help relieve hiccups.

A strong suction causes the diaphragm, a bundle of muscles that inflates the lungs when you breathe, to contract. Sucking and swallowing also closes the epiglottis, a valve that covers the windpipe when you swallow. This will stop the hiccups.

User feedback

FISST stopped hiccups almost 92% of the time, users reported themselves. In terms of satisfaction, 226 out of 249 participants (90.8%) answered in the affirmative when asked if they found the tool easy to use.

In another measure, subjective effectiveness, 183 out of 203 participants (90.1%) said FISST was effective when they used it. Fewer respondents answered this question, possibly because it was last on the survey, said Dr. Seifi.

That at UT Health San Antonio by Dr. Developed with input from medical students, the tool developed by Seifi is marketed by a Colorado company under a licensing agreement with the university and accepted to hit store shelves by a major supermarket chain, Dr. said Seifi.

About studying

The research project started with 600 people who received FISST due to hiccups. Of this population, 290 people responded to a survey about their experience of using the device compared to other medicines they used. Of them, 249 fully answered the survey and were included in the research analysis.

The scale ranged from 1 to 5, with 5 indicating that respondents were very satisfied with FISST and 1 indicating that they preferred to use home remedies.

The respondents were primarily adults over 18 (70%), half female and half male. Almost 80% of the respondents were white.

Regarding the frequency of hiccups, 69% said they occurred at least once a month, and most cases (65%) were transient and lasted less than two hours.

Clinical study is the goal

Future directions include conducting a double-blind clinical trial in Europe and America in which one group of study participants is provided with FISST and another group is provided with a non-working bogus device. The challenge is to come up with something that looks like FISST but doesn’t work, said Dr. Seifi.


Assessment of the forced inspiratory suction and swallowing tool to stop hiccups

James Alvarez, MD; Jane Margaret Anderson, BSA; Patrick Larry Snyder, MD; Alireza Mirahmadizadeh, MD, MPH, PhD; Daniel Agustin Godoy, MD; Mark Fox, MD, MA; Ali Seifi, MD, FNCS

First published: June 18, 2021, JAMA Network Open

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