TikTok doc reveals how to ‘cure’ hiccups – but you might not want to try it

HICCUPS can be super annoying and it might feel as though you have tried everything to get rid of them.

But one doctor says there is one method you probably haven't tried – a rectal massage.

Posting to TikTok, Dr Karan Raj explained why the process works and who came up with the bizarre idea.

He said: "Hiccups are caused by erratic electrical impulses in the vagus nerve.

"Rectal massage stimulates the vagus nerve which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system.

"Increased stimulation of the vagus nerve helps to control the diaphragm and then terminates the hiccups."

Dr Karan then highlighted Dr Francis Fesmire, who was the person who discovered the association.

"I guess you could say what happens in the vagus nerve, stays in the vagus nerve", Dr Karan added.

Dr Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine won the Ig Nobel prize in medicine for his discovery.

Dr Fesmire published a paper titled, 'Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage', in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

This came about after he treated a patient who had attended accident and emergency.

The man had been hiccuping for 72 hours at the rate of around 30 hiccups a minute.

He first tried a range of different movements including tongue pulling and sinus massaging – but non of them worked.

Dr Fesmire then remembered having previously read about a digital rectal massage, whereby inserting the fingers into a patient's anus helped to slow a racing heartbeat.

It worked – but instead of using the technique on every patient, he recommended that an orgasm will do the trick.

He previously said: "An orgasm results in incredible stimulation of the vagus nerve.

"From now on, I will be recommending sex – culminating with orgasm – as the cure-all for intractable hiccups."

What causes hiccups?

As Dr Karan explained, hiccups are caused by erratic electrical impulses in the vagus nerve.

Swallowing air is the main cause, and you can do this by eating too fast, smoking or chewing gum but you can also get hiccups when you eat too much and irritate your diaphragm.

Hiccups are sometimes thought to be a reflex to protect a person from choking.


If you're not keen on trying the rectal massage, here are some other ways that you can get rid of them.

  • Drink a full glass of water very quickly
  • Hold your breath for as long as you can
  • Put a pinch of salt under your tongue
  • Pull on your tongue
  • Gargle with ice cold water
  • Get someone to scare you
  • Bite into a lemon wedge

The majority of these have not been proven with actual science, although anecdotal evidence suggests that they work for some people.

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