Great Invention Idea? Cure Hiccups with a Zap!

We've all heard that a good fright is one way to cure a bout of the hiccups. Admittedly, that's never worked for me, but I'm not the kind of girl who scares easily. (The nutrition label on a bag of Cheetos notwithstanding.) Well it seems back in 2003, Philip Ehlinger, Jr., in the style of a pre-Discovery Channel MythBuster, or an obstinate inventor, you decide, felt this urban legend was worth validating, so he came up with United States patent 7062320.

Hiccup Feedbag!Hiccup Feedbag!

I know what you're thinking; The Device for the Treatment of Hiccups looks a lot like a human feedbag - if only that were the case. Basically, the device is a cylinder resembling a drinking glass that is strapped to the hiccup sufferer's face and is designed to shock them every time they drink from it! Supposedly, the shocks stimulate the nerves that control the hiccups.

Whether or not this actually cures the hiccuper is anyone's guess. The more interesting question is how does an otherwise perfectly sane and self-loving individual come to a point that electro-shock therapy for treating a case of annoying hiccups does not seem like overkill but a good idea? Although I can't say for sure, I think the rationalization and obvious conclusion probably go something like this:

I'm desperate.
I'll try anything.
Gimme that thing.
Get this freakin' thing off me!

At which point the wearer, holding her breath in an attempt to fool the sensors, promptly rips the straps off her face and flings the device across the room.

Or maybe the hiccup feedbag isn't meant to cure the wearer at all. Maybe the device is worn so that the afflicted happens upon the wearer, screams in terror and is immediately cured of those pesky hiccups. What about the electric shocks? What's a little voltage in the mouth when we are talking about potentially healing people?

Cheetos PuffsCheetos Puffs

Seems Ehlinger was onto something. Maybe this urban legend, the hiccup fright cure, is legit. Or maybe Ehlinger got lucky. What do you think? Better yet, hold that thought while I grab a bag of Cheetos. After all, United States patent 7062320 has shown me there are a lot scarier things out there than a bag full of fat and orange food coloring, unless of course, that bag is plugged into an electrical outlet and strapped to my face.

Elizabeth Valeri
Patents Writer

Mar 4, 2008
by Anonymous

hic-cup cup

It may work....lots of testimonials???

Mar 5, 2008
by Elizabeth Valeri
Elizabeth Valeri's picture

Does it really work?

I suppose it must work or people wouldn't volunteer to be electrocuted (figuratively speaking)! 

Elizabeth Valeri
Patents Writer

May 2, 2008
by Anonymous

hic-cup cup's current output

We have tested one with an electrical volt meter - it does create a current - about 150 millivolts. Not enough to actually feel but apparently enough to stop hiccups. And not enough to be electrocuted (figuratively or literally)

Dave Hillman, PE
Drexel University Engineering Dept.
Philadelphia PA