This Thing Really Sucks: Texas Neurologist’s Straw Could Cure Hiccup Cases ˇ

Dr. Ali Seifi developed the device after brain surgery patients complained of post-op hiccups.

By Michael MarksJuly 7, 2021 3:11 pm

Everyone has a trick for dealing with the hiccups. Some people hold their breath, others suck on a lemon. In Mexico, some people put a wet string on their forehead. But these remedies are not necessarily cures, though. Shouldn’t there be a proper fix for the hiccups by now?

Ali Seifi thought so. He’s an assistant professor of neurology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and the developer of the “forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool,” or FISST.

Hiccups happen because of spasms in the diaphragm. The FISST, also known as HiccAway, is basically a straw that forces the user to suck with so much force that they make their diaphragm contract.

“Inside the straw there is a valve,” said Seifi. “This valve is calculated to reach a certain pressure. And that is the pressure that we need to stop the diaphragm muscle to become agitated and contract.”

Seifi said it only takes a couple sips through the straw for the hiccuper to feel the effects. He developed the straw after watching his patients struggle with hiccups after brain surgery. But the HiccAway device is meant to be an inexpensive consumer tool, not a medical device. It’s available over the counter, and coming to H-E-B’s this fall.

Most users report that the device stopped their hiccups more effectively than methods they’d previously used, according to Seifi. But it’s not recommended for people with cases of chronic hiccups.

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