Medical Definition of Hiccough
Hiccough: Hiccups happen when the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, suddenly contracts. When that happens, air is taken in, and then the voice box closes shut, which is what causes the "hic" sound. There are different types of hiccups, named after how long they last:
A "regular" bout of hiccups can last up to 48 hours
"Persistent hiccups" last longer than 48 hours and up to a month
"Intractable hiccups" last longer than a month
In most cases, hiccups go away on their own with no lasting effects. But in some people, they can last a long time and lead to problems such as poor nutrition, tiredness, and reduced appetite.
Alternative terms for "hiccough" and "hiccups" include: "hickup" and "singultus".
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016
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