Hiccups are a common and relatively inconsequential condition caused by contraction of the diaphragm combined with glottal spasms.
They can be the consequence of a wide range of unrelated circumstances, such as stress, eating too quickly, gargling with caustic soda and whistling in a badger sett, and although they almost always abate naturally, there is a wealth of supposed remedies, including blowing into a paper bag, drinking from the wrong side of a glass, standing on a small tower of lardy cakes and inflating a balloon with your ear. However, in a recent study by the NHS (National Hiccup Survey), the only treatment verified as having any degree of effectivenes was sword swallowing, particularly if a cutlass or scimitar was used.
People with an intolerance of dairy food may be affected by buttercups, while those allergic to small towns in Kent often suffer from Sidcups.
Because of their explosive auditory nature, hiccups have proved popular as ringtones, and the avant garde composer, John Cage, used recordings of more than 80,000 hiccups to create his seminal 1996 work, And you thought four minutes, thirty-three seconds of silence was rubbish.