Hiccups (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are the symptoms of hiccups?

Sudden, forceful movement of the diaphragm, that causes the hiccup sound, is the only symptom of hiccups.

When should I contact my doctor for hiccups?

Most cases of hiccups resolve themselves in a short period of time and are rarely a medical emergency. See your doctor if hiccups last more than three hours, or if they disturb your eating or sleeping habits.

If hiccups are associated with abdominal pain, fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, coughing up blood, or feeling as if your throat is going to close up, seek medical attention.

How are hiccups diagnosed?

Most of us know what a hiccup feels like and how to recognize it. In a medical setting, the diagnosis of hiccups is based on physical evaluation.

Blood tests or X-rays are usually not necessary unless your hiccups are a symptom of an associated medical condition.

What is the treatment or cure for hiccups?

Home Remedies for Hiccups

There are numerous home cures for hiccups. You can try these methods at home to get rid of hiccups:

Methods that cause the body to retain carbon dioxide, which is thought to relax the diaphragm and stop the spasms which cause the hiccups:

  • Hold your breath

Techniques that stimulate the nasopharynx and the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach, and can decrease hiccupping:

  • Drink a glass of water quickly
  • Have someone frighten you
  • Pull hard on your tongue
  • Bite on a lemon
  • Gargle with water
  • Drink from the far side of a glass
  • Use smelling salts
  • Place one-half teaspoon of dry sugar on the back of your tongue. (This process can be repeated three times at two-minute intervals. Use corn syrup, not sugar, for young children.)

Medical Treatment

Most hiccups will stop on their own. Home remedies are generally sufficient to resolve hiccupping.

For persistent hiccups (lasting more than three hours) treatment varies.

A physician may prescribe medications for severe, chronic hiccups. Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) is usually the first-line medication prescribed for hiccups. Other medications used to treat hiccups include haloperidol (Haldol) and metoclopramide (Reglan).

Some muscle relaxants, sedatives, analgesics, and even stimulants have also been reported to help alleviate hiccup symptoms.

Phrenic nerve surgery (the nerve that controls the diaphragm) is a treatment of last resort. This treatment is rarely performed and used only in cases that do not respond to other treatments.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Hiccups - Symptoms Question: Do you have other symptoms associated with hiccups? If so, what are they?
Hiccups - Medical Help Question: Have you ever gone to a doctor or the ER for hiccups? Please share your experience.
Hiccups - Remedies and Treatment Question: Everyone has a remedy for hiccups. What's yours?
Hiccups - Length of Time Question: How long did you have hiccups?

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!