Budimir Jevtic

The neverending hiccups

If you have ever got a dose of the hiccups you know just how frustrating they can be. It starts and you find it a little funny. If it continues for more than a minute you get annoyed. If it goes into a second or third minute you are trying every weird trick in the book from hanging upside down to saying the alphabet backward to try and get rid of them. Spare a thought then, for Charles Osborne, the man who had the hiccups for 68 years.

Charles Osborne was born in 1894 and lived a very normal happy life. Until at the age of 28, he fell, an innocent meaningless fall. He felt nothing and got back up to his feet, and there the hiccups began. Later doctors would tell Charles that he damaged a small part of his brain that inhibits the hiccup response. He was now stuck with the hiccups for life.

Doctors were not able to cure Charles but they did teach him a trick to breathe while hiccuping that ruled out any associated noise. The condition was a huge disruption to his life but Charles did not let it get in the way. He was already married by the time the accident happened and throughout his life, he would marry a second time. He also had 8 kids during his lifetime.

However, in his later years, it became difficult to digest food between hiccups so his meals had to be ground down before consumption. Charles was hiccuping an average of 40 times per minute, although they started to slow down in his later years, overall the man hiccuped an estimated 430 million times.

Charles lived to be 97 years old and apart from his hiccup condition, led an active and healthy lifestyle. Surprisingly, in his last year alive, the hiccups miraculously stopped. Whether it had any link to his death later that year or was simply a coincidence, we will never know. It is nice to think that Charles, after years of suffering the condition, was given one year of freedom before he passed away.