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Disease: Hiccups Hiccups
Category: Neurological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Nearly everyone is affected by hiccups, which are a common condition. The involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, which is the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen and plays an important role in breathing, causes hiccups. The characteristic "hic" sound is produced because each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of the vocal cords.

Breathing into a paper bag and swallowing a teaspoon of granulated sugar are some of the home remedies for hiccups that people swear by.

A sudden excitement, a large meal or alcoholic beverages could cause hiccups. In some rare cases, hiccups could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. In some people, about one in 100,000, hiccups could persist for months, which could cause exhaustion and malnutrition. However, in most cases, hiccups last only a few minutes.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The only sign and symptom associated with hiccups is the slight tightening sensation in the abdomen, throat or chest, followed by the sound of a hiccup. Usually, the number of hiccups a minute ranges between four and sixty.

In case someone's hiccups are so severe that they cause problems with eating or breathing, or if they last more than 48 hours, the person should see a doctor.


Some of the most common triggers for short-term hiccups may include:


  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Eating too much
  • Emotional stress or excitement
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Drinking carbonated beverages

A variety of factors could cause hiccups that last more than 48 hours. Those factors may be grouped in these categories:

Damage or irritation of the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves, which serve the diaphragm muscle, is the most common cause of long-term hiccups. Some of the factors that could cause irritation or damage to these nerves may include:


  • Sore throat or laryngitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • A hair or something else in the ear that touches the eardrum
  • A tumor, cyst or goiter in the neck

The body's normal control of the hiccup reflex may be disrupted due to a tumor or infection in the person's central nervous system or damage to the central nervous system as a result of trauma. Some examples are:


  • Tumors
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Meningitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Encephalitis


These may include:


  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • Anesthesia
  • Tranquilizers
  • Steroids
  • Alcoholism
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Barbiturates



When hiccups are prolonged, they may interfere with:


  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Speech
  • Post-surgical wound healing


Most cases of hiccups go away on their own without medical treatment. If someone's hiccups are caused by an underlying medical condition, treating that illness could eliminate the hiccups. When hiccups last longer than two days, these treatments may be considered:


Some of the medications that are usually used in treating long-term hiccups are:


  • Metoclopramide, which is an anti-nausea drug
  • Baclofen, which is a muscle relaxant
  • Chlorpromazine hydrochloride, which is a powerful antipsychotic.


Nerve block:
The patient may be recommended an injection of an anesthetic to block the phrenic nerve and stop hiccups if less invasive treatments aren't effective

Nasogastric (NG) tube:
If the stomach is distended, a thin, flexible tube inserted through the patient’s nose and into their stomach (nasogastric tube) may stop hiccups.

Vagus nerve stimulation:
In this procedure, a battery-operated device is surgically implanted into the chest and programmed to deliver mild electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve. Although this procedure has helped in controlling persistent hiccups, but it's usually used to treat epilepsy.


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