How does sugar water stop hiccups?

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Julie Grise

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How does sugar water stop hiccups?
« on: 11/02/2011 21:30:02 »
Julie Grise asked the Naked Scientists:
I have a question about hiccups.
My husband introduced me to a cure for hiccups that I had not previously come across.  The first time I had hiccups around him, he ran off to the kitchen and mixed up a batch of "sugar water".   He basically just took a few spoonfuls of sugar, dissolved them in boiling water, then added cold water to cool it down to room temperature and told me to skull it.
The last hiccup I had for that bout was the one just before downing the sugar water.  
This cure had worked time and time again without fail.   As soon as you've finished gulping down the sugar water the hiccups stop.   It doesn't work with just plain warm water, or only a small amount of sugar, two teaspoons seems to be the minimum.
The only exception to this we've found is if the hiccups are alcohol induced, then it seems to be a 50/50 if it works or not.
So . . . from this one can presume that sugar somehow has an effect on the diaphragm - either by inducing hiccups in the case of alcohol, or curing them.
Therefore, my question is, how and why does this work?
Thanks muchly!
Julie Grise  (pronounced "Gree-Zay")
Flagstaff Hill, South Australia

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« Last Edit: 11/02/2011 21:30:02 by _system »