Does drinking water “backwards” cure a bout of hiccups?

I had the hiccups, drank some water backwards and they were cured! Is there any science behind this?

Yes, there is some science behind the process! There are many ways to stop hiccuping

Image: Snap via flickr
Image: Snap via flickr

although some work better for some people and some ‘cures’ don’t work at all.

Drinking a glass of water “backwards”, or from the far side of the rim is one way to cure a bout of hiccups. So is holding your breath and slowly swallowing a dry piece of bread. Hiccups are a peculiar body function, not to mention very annoying. The diaphragm is a muscle below your ribcage that helps pull air into your lungs. Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. The “Hic” sound comes from a fleshy trapdoor called the ‘glottis’, which separates the food ‘tube’ from the air pipe. The jury is still out on what the purpose of hiccups is but scientists have stated it could have been helpful to our less-evolved relatives. Hiccups could have acted as a safety mechanism for our four-legged ancestors by helping them swallow food that was stuck in their throat. Luckily, gravity helps us two-legged animals swallow food – and so hiccups aren’t need for us.

So how exactly would drinking a glass of water “backwards” help stop these contractions? What happens is that drinking water “backwards” causes you to hold your breath (due to the amount of concentration needed). When you hold your breath you can often ‘restart’ your diaphragm, it’s like switching a computer off and on and normally stops the problem.

Did you know that a man from America suffered from continuous hiccups from 1922 to 1990? If hiccups are annoying you – just be thankful they don’t last 68 years…

Answer by Lucy Huang

Question from Ali Coote via Twitter (@alisouthsea)

Article by Lucy Huang

June 18, 2013

Lucy is Guru Magazine's intern; a recent graduate from Skidmore College, NY she has a background in molecular biology. Passionate about killing the jargon from science, she likes drinking tea so much that she sells the stuff in a posh shop.


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