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by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
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.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance of getting hiccups include:
Hiccups may cause:
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Call your doctor if your hiccups:
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:
Some drugs may help hiccups, including:
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:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center—National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
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
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