A woman who was bullied mercilessly at school after suffering from near-constant bouts of hiccups has revealed how she finally got them to stop.
Nicole Allard, 37, an emergency dispatcher from Alaska, US, started experiencing bouts of hiccups which lasted for hours at a time from the age of 15.
They were often accompanied by searing stomach pains, often so bad she had to go to hospital. Sometimes her only reprieve from the hiccups was when she went to sleep.
At school she was called 'constipated pig, a baby seal getting clubbed, a pterodactyl'.
She said: "At first, it was annoying but funny, then as it progressed I felt resigned."
Nicole says she consulted countless doctors, but none could offer a suitable treatment, saying her condition was 'something minor caused by stress'.
She continued: "I had hiccups pretty much all the time for 15 years. For the first five, I looked for help but didn't get any answers.
"Then there was five years where I just didn't do anything. I just tried to accept it was part of my life and I had to deal with it."
Finally, in 2011, she had an idea. When the hiccups returned after several months of freedom - one of Nicole's longest periods of being hiccup-free - she pinpointed what might have caused them to come back: a spicy chicken sandwich.
Nicola began to see that the hiccups may have been caused by her diet. Over the course of three years, she and a friend whittled down the food groups that were causing her problems.
They ground down foods Nicole thought might be triggering her hiccups, put them into pills and her friend randomly assigned her one at a time to try.
Nicole said: "I would take one pill a day for two weeks, or until I got the hiccups. If that happened, I would wait until they stopped and start with the next jar."
She ended up with a definitive list of six things she couldn't eat: peppers, wheat (but not gluten), cow dairy, peas, corn and peanuts.
Now, seven years after finishing her experiment, she's more or less free of the hiccups, unless she's feeling rundown or happens to eat one of the trigger foods.
She said: "It was empowering because as well as feeling better, I was also just more in control.
"There is just very little data out there.
"My particular diet is probably something that will only help me but I'd love to be able to bring more people with the condition together to try to piece together some answers about it."
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