PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

THE BALTIMORE SUN

One surefire hiccups remedy: Swallow seven sips of water

I really appreciate the tips, updates and news in your column. When I read advice about halting hiccups, I'm reminded about the only sure way I've ever found to stop hiccups -- and I learned it from The Bullwinkle Show when I was a kid.

Bullwinkle's advice? Take seven sips of water while holding your breath. This simple trick has always worked for me -- and everyone I've ever shared it with -- for more than 20 years. Make sure each of the seven sips is completely swallowed.

Many hiccup remedies involve sipping or swallowing. In one, the hiccup victim must drink from the wrong side of the cup. (It's necessary to bend over.) In another, the sufferer drinks several swallows of water while an accomplice presses on both ear flaps (technically called the tragi).

Hiccups are thought to happen when a signal to the phrenic nerve goes awry. Stimulating that nerve in the roof of the mouth by swallowing a spoonful of granulated sugar or sucking on a lemon wedge soaked with Angostura bitters seems to interrupt the hiccup cycle. That is probably what Bullwinkle's advice accomplishes. Thanks for sharing it.

We have an exciting camping trip planned later this summer, with several days of rafting on the Colorado River as well as some hiking. Can you recommend a good sunscreen with both physical and chemical agents?

My dermatologist has removed a few pre-cancers from my skin, the result of a childhood spent in the sunshine.

I know I need to protect my skin now, but the dermatologist has not made any specific brand recommendations. I hope you can. I really need something good and strong.

A sunscreen that is beginning to achieve cultlike status among some dermatologists is called Blue Lizard. It was originally developed in Australia, where they take sun protection seriously.

In addition to standard sunscreens like oxybenzone, Blue Lizard contains the physical sun blocker zinc oxide. Lifeguards used to use old-fashioned zinc oxide creams that turned their noses white.

This new formulation is so finely dispersed that it does not make skin look white, even though it blocks invisible UVA rays. Many other sunscreens don't protect well against UVA. Blue Lizard is available from dermatologists, some drugstores, on the Web at www.bluelizard.net, or at 800-877-8869.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www. peoplespharmacy.org.

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