• Hiccups



    Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm muscle. They are repeated and cannot be controlled. This results in an odd, sometimes uneasy gasping sensation and sound with each hiccup.


    Hiccups are caused by any number of factors that irritate the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity. Its main function is to help the lungs draw in air during breathing.
    Phrenic Nerve and Diaphragm
    Phrenic Nerve
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of getting hiccups include:


    Hiccups may cause:
    • Spasms of the diaphragm muscle that repeat and cannot be controlled
    • Uneasy gasping and sound with each hiccup

    When Should I Call My Doctor?

    Call your doctor if your hiccups:
    • Last for more than 2 days
    • Are painful or get in the way of your daily life, such as eating or sleeping


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need tests if the doctor is concerned that the hiccups may be caused by a condition.
    Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
    Images may be taken of your abdomen and chest. This can be done with:


    Many treatments for hiccups involve stimulating nerves that may be involved. This can be done by:
    • Eating hard to swallow items such as granulated sugar or molasses
    • Sucking on ice cubes
    • Gagging with purpose
    • Valsalva maneuver—holding your breath and bearing down, as you might when having a bowel movement
    • Breathing into a bag
    • Gasping with purpose
    Some drugs may help hiccups, including:
    • Antipsychotics
    • Antiseizure medications
    • Medications used to treat nausea
    • Muscle relaxers


    It is not known why some people get hiccups. There are no sure ways to prevent developing them. However, if you are prone to hiccups, you might want to avoid:
    • Overfilling your stomach
    • Drinking carbonated beverages or alcohol
    • Becoming overexcited, including stress, intense emotion, heavy laughing, or crying


    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

    Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center—National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov


    Canadian Institutes of Health Research http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca


    Hiccups. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115733/Hiccups. Updated May 21, 2013. Accessed September 28, 2016.

    What causes hiccups? Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/hiccup.html. Updated August 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review BoardMarcin Chwistek, MD
    • Review Date: 03/2017
    • Update Date: 12/13/2013
  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.