'On day seven, exhausted by a week of jolting, I went to see a hypnotherapist'

I have sipped vinegar. I have stood on my head. I have drunk iced drinking chocolate from the wrong side of the glass and I have licked salt. But after nine days, I still have hiccups.

Until last week, I prided myself on being one of the world's greatest hiccup curers. If any sufferer came to me, I would fix them with a firm look and say: "Tell me when the next one is coming." The hiccup is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm, so when you really concentrate, you cannot do one. Trying to predict the up moment of the next hic stops it every time. Except with my new breed of super-hics. They just keep on coming, about once every 5.3 seconds.

"Put a paper bag over your head and take deep breaths," advised one friend. "Take seven sips of iced water slowly from the wrong side of the glass," said another. "Bite your tongue until it hurts." "Don't eat for a day." "Drink a glass of water while holding a pencil between your teeth."

Everyone has a personal, guaranteed-to-work-every-time cure for hiccups. I have tried them all and can confirm that most do work - but only for half-an-hour or so. Then the wretched hiccups return and drinking more vinegar from the wrong side of the glass while standing on your head and whistling only increases the discomfort.

On day four I consulted a doctor. She was very sympathetic, and hoped they would soon go away. I have not been encouraged to proceed further along the path of conventional medicine after reading that severe cases of hiccups may be treated with Valium, and particularly bad cases may need surgery. There is a nerve to the diaphragm that may be crushed to eliminate the hiccup spasm. Crushing it also eliminates around 25 per cent of your breathing capability.

I sought consolation from those worse off than me. On a newspaper database, I found two cases of people who had suffered fatal heart attacks when given a fright by friends trying to cure them of hiccups. There was another report of a man whose defence to a charge of murder was that he had only been trying to cure an acquaintance of hiccups when he shot him through the head. Most depressing of all, there was an American who had had hiccups for 33 years and turned down an offer of a cure on the grounds that "when you've had them that long, you don't want to lose them".

I sought advice in great literature. In the entire works of Shakespeare, there is only a single hiccup - a parenthetical eructation in a speech by, appropriately enough, Sir Toby Belch. There is another hiccup in War and Peace, but neither the Bard nor Tolstoy offers a cure.

Hippocrates says that sneezing cures hiccups, but he does not mention, as I discovered, that a sneeze can also set off an attack. More detailed advice is to be found in Plato's Symposium, where the physician Erixymachus advises a hiccup-afflicted Aristophanes: "Hold your breath, and if after you have done so for some time the hiccup is no better, then gargle with a little water; and if it still continues, tickle your nose with something and sneeze; and if you sneeze once or twice, even the most violent hiccup is sure to go."

On day seven, exhausted by a week of constant jolting, I went to see a hypnotherapist, who had been recommended to me with glowing references. I was unimpressed by her hypnobabble about brain waves at 10.5 cycles a second aiding the healing process (holy eructations, Batman! That's almost 56 cycles per hiccup!) but thought that if her hypnotic skills could cure tics and phobias, then they'd have a good chance against my hiccups.

Except the devious little buggers were taking a break when I arrived for the treatment. So she sank me into a deep state of relaxation and told my subconscious to get its act together. I must say I felt very much better for the experience and it was followed by my longest hiccup-free period for a week. She even gave me a technique to chase them away for times when they threatened to return. But late in the evening, they sneaked up on me much worse than ever and nothing would banish them.

Yesterday, a chemist suggested Gripe Water which is, after all, what one gives babies with hiccups. The bottle advised 10ml for babies aged six months to one-year-old, but gave no dosage for a 47-year-old. Estimating my weight at about nine times that of an average baby, I swigged most of the bottle.

Two hours later, I vomited it all up, and I haven't hiccuped since. I can't recommend it as a cure, as I'm not convinced that they have gone for good. My next meal may be a good test. And just in case they return, the acupuncturist is coming round this evening. I suspect, however, that what my insides really need is a good plumber.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

    £40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

    Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect