For the last several years, I have been experiencing a strange and frequent hiccup-like sensation, wherein I involuntarily gasp and release a loud, squeaky squawk. Imagine the sounds of a hiccup reversed and them amplified. It sounds absolutely ridiculous. It’s nearly impossible to convince those around me that I’m not faking the most embarrassing sound known to man for a little attention.
The other day, I did some web browser acrobatics in search of an answer or solution as the sound reverberated through our home and my partner’s guitar hummed along. I’m surprised the police didn’t show up at our door in response to reports of shots heard by a neighbor. The incompetent hiccup impersonator knows how to make a scene.
Well, it turns out reverse hiccups are actually a thing and I’m not so weird after all. Well, I mean, I am about as weird as they come, but the strange and involuntary sounds that I sometimes release aren’t quite as strange as my loved ones might have me believe.
Back in 2011, Katieee with three Es on some random health forum says, “I am 22 years old, and for the past 3 years I’ve experienced what my friends call “reverse hiccups” about 30-40 times a day. It’s similar to a hiccup, except much louder. It often sounds like a gasp, and ranges from being quiet ones I can muffle to loud ones that stop everyone in the room. Sometimes I can feel it coming, and make it stop completely, other times it surprises me just as much as those around me…They can be extremely loud, and very embarrassing. They sound very odd, and I haven’t met anyone else with similar symptoms. I’m often accused by others of doing it on purpose to ‘try to be funny’ or ‘get attention’, but it is honestly something I cannot control (beyond sometimes being able to stifle them).”
I was 22 back in 2011. Katieee could have been me! Is she still suffering the wrath of the hiccup imposter ten years later? I desperately wish I could find out.
Katieee goes on to state that she originally assumed the reverse hiccups were related to stress or poor digestion, but quickly ruled out both. The symptom came on suddenly whether in class or reading alone at home, immediately after food or twelve hours into a fast.
The commenters go on to lament the suffering of Katieee and share their own tragic experiences: spousal doubt, deep humiliation when emitting involuntary pterodactyl sounds, and the continued recommendation to treat the symptom with a spoonful or sugar or controlled breathing. Several years, I was prescribed an acid reflex medication to treat the symptom and it didn’t do a thing. Commenter WRPQ passionately insist that hiccup-gasps are something totally different and are not caused by a spasm of the diaphragm and cannot be treated by the normal hiccup method. Oh, WRPQ, I know… I feel your pain.
Speaking of which, quite literally, these things hurt! Commented Enonimouse shares that the experience involves their entire chest jerking inward (similar to trying to force oneself to burp), while normal hiccups tend to originate higher in the throat. Paying attention to my own squawking, I noted that this is absolutely true for me. After hours of this involuntary jerking, my abs have gotten a decent workout and I’m ready to call it a day.
Commenter WRPQ goes on to recommend Craniosacral Therapy, an approach that seems to have worked for his daughter when she was suffering for not-exactly-the-hiccups. The bodywork is meant to relieve compression in the bones of the head, sacrum (a triangular bone in the lower back), and spinal column. It appears to be prescribed for nearly every condition, including the mythical and deeply misunderstood backwards hiccups.
Thank you internet and random internet strangers! I don’t think I’m any closer to an answer or a solution to my hiccup imposter, but you have made me feel far less alone in my plight and given me a good laugh.