CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Hiccups

(Singultus)

Definition

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.

Causes    TOP

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    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of getting hiccups include:

Symptoms    TOP

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

Diagnosis    TOP

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:

Treatment    TOP

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

Prevention    TOP

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

RESOURCES:

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 RESOURCES:

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

References:

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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardMarcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 12/13/2013

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000