Nobody is really sure why we hiccup. Some scientists believe hiccupping is the last vestige of a primitive reflex that at one time served some useful purpose, but not anymore. What causes it? The explanations are nearly endless, but most experts start their lists of hiccup sins with eating too fast and swallowing too much air. Most hiccups will last only a few minutes but are rather embarrassing when you are at a dinner party and begin to hiccup. The other guests stare at you and you know they are thinking “another drunk at the party.” Charles Osborne of Anthon, Iowa, was not drunk when he started to hiccup in 1922. He hiccupped for the next 65 years.

Hiccup cures date to antiquity and number in the hundreds, perhaps thousands. Do any of the cures work? Some physicians say it doesn’t matter as they will stop on their own. That is what they probably told poor Charles Osborne. After considerable research into finding a cure for hiccups, here is a laundry list of favorite treatments.

Yank forcefully on the tongue.
Tickle the roof of your mouth at the point
where the hard and soft palate meet.
Chew and swallow dry bread.
Suck a lemon wedge.
Gargle with water.
Take small sips of cold water.
Suck on crushed ice….(and my favorite that never fails me,)
Swallow a deep breath and hold it as long as you can,
repeating as many times as necessary.

I have left out the old “breathing into a brown paper bag” cure, figuring everyone knows about it and that it never worked very well anyways. Then I heard of Pat Leayman, a mail clerk for a major firm in the industrial heartland of America. Seems she’s cured large number of hiccupping mail worker using nothing more than the old brown paper bag. “It’s in the technique,” Leayman says, “You have to blow in and out exactly ten times, and you have to do it really hard until you’re red in the face. You also have to do it fast, and you have to form a good seal around your mouth with the bag so that no air gets in. The bag will work every time.”

Now, if you are at this dinner party and want to make a spectacle of yourself, try bending over and drinking water from the opposite side of a full glass. A variation of this cure comes from a researcher of digestive disturbances and goes like this. “Fill a Dixie cup with water and place it on a counter, then press your index fingers in your ears. Bend over at the waist and pick up the cup with the pinky finger and thumb of each hand and, while holding your breath, drink the water down in one or two gulps.” This may work for you but I guarantee that the dinner party hostess will never invite you to another of her parties.

Hic Jacet

This is a Latin term which means “here lies.” It can be seen inscribed on older tombstones and may also be seen abbreviated simply as H. J. The term is an epitaph and is pronounced “hik jasit.” I’m reminded of an old epitaph said to actually exist.

Here lie the remains of Joe McGirt,
A window washer who stepped back to admire his work.