Hiccups are embarrassing and painful, and rumoured cures abound.

The NHS suggests sipping ice-cold water, biting on a lemon, sipping vinegar or holding your breath.

The Canadian Family Physician journal has a series of even more drastic remedies, including inhaling pepper to induce a sneeze.

But help may now be at hand thanks to a Texas physician who was inspired by watching his son trying to drink a McDonald’s McFlurry – a cross between a milkshake and ice cream – through a straw.

Dr Ali Seifi, associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has come up with the HiccAway – more formally known as a “forced inspiratory suction and swallow tool”.

A drinking tube can eliminate hiccups

On sale for $14 (£10) the device – a rigid straw with a mouthpiece at one end and a pressure valve at the other – is deceptively simple.

Hiccups are repeated spasms of the diaphragm, with the "hic" sound coming from the vocal cords closing at the same time.

Drinking water through the straw mimics the effect of trying to drink a thick milkshake.

It stimulates the phrenic and vagus nerves, which are responsible for hiccups, and allows the brain to reset.

“It works instantly and the effect stays for several hours,” said Dr Seifi.

Ninety per cent of hiccuppers said the straw improved their symptoms

The device was tested on 249 regular hiccuppers with more than 90 per cent saying it improved their symptoms in a study published on Friday. The vast majority also said it gave better results than other methods, and that it was more convenient – although the results were all self-reported and there was no control group.

Customer reviews on Amazon, where the device is on sale, are also encouraging, if not unanimous. So far, 69 per cent gave the device five stars.

And if it doesn’t work for you? You can always try drinking water backwards or shouting "boo!"