- Home Remedies
What are hiccups?
A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary contraction (spasm) of the diaphragm muscle. When the muscle spasms, the vocal cords snap shut, producing the hiccup sound. Most cases of hiccups can be cured or resolved in a short time, and rarely are they a medical emergency. See your doctor if hiccups last more than three hours, or if they disturb your eating or sleeping habits.
What causes hiccups?
Most of the time, there is no obvious cause for hiccups. However, there are some common known causes of hiccups.
Some causes of hiccups include:
- Eating too quickly and swallowing air along with food.
- Eating too much (fatty or spicy foods, in particular) or drinking too much (carbonated beverages or alcohol) can distend the stomach and irritate the diaphragm, which can cause hiccups.
- Any disease or disorder that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm (such as liver disease, pneumonia, or other lung disorders).
- Abdominal surgery can also irritate the nerves that control the diaphragm, causing hiccups.
- Strokes or brain tumors involving the brain stem, and some chronic medical disorders (such as renal failure) have also been reported to cause hiccups.
- Noxious fumes can also trigger hiccups.
- Sudden changes in temperature
- Fear or excitement
Some medications may also have hiccups as a side effect, for example:
When should I contact my doctor for hiccups?
Most cases of hiccups resolve themselves in a short time and rarely are a medical emergency. See your doctor if hiccups last more than 3 hours, or if they disturb your eating or sleeping habits.
Seek medical attention if hiccups are associated with the following:
How do medical professionals diagnose the cause of hiccups?
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 the physical evaluation. Blood tests or X-rays are usually not necessary unless your hiccups are a symptom of an associated medical condition.
Which specialties of doctors treat hiccups?
Hiccups generally go away on their own and do not require medical treatment, however, if hiccups last more than three hours or disturb eating or sleeping, you may see your primary care provider (PCP) such as a family practitioner, internist, or a child’s pediatrician.
There may be many different specialists who treat hiccups depending on the underlying cause, for example:
- If the cause is a stroke or other neurological disorder, you may see a neurologist (a specialist in the nervous system and brain).
- If the cause is acid reflux, you may see a gastroenterologist (a specialist in disorders of the digestive system).
- If the cause is lung disease or pneumonia, you may see a pulmonologist (a specialist in disorders of the respiratory tract).
Is there medical treatment for hiccups?
Most hiccups will stop on their own. Home remedies are generally sufficient to resolve hiccups.
For persistent hiccups (lasting more than three hours), treatment varies, and you may need to contact your doctor.
- A "hiccup bout" is an episode of hiccups that lasts up to 48 hours
- "Persistent hiccups" continue for more than 48 hours, up to 1 month
- "Intractable hiccups" last longer than 1 month
A healthcare professional 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).
Phrenic nerve surgery (the nerve that controls the diaphragm) is a treatment of last resort. This treatment rarely is performed, and phrenic nerve surgery is used only in individuals with long-term hiccups that do not respond to other treatments.
How to get rid of hiccups at home
Home remedies for hiccups
There are numerous home cures for hiccups. You can try these methods at home to get rid of hiccups.
Techniques that stimulate the nasopharynx and the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach, and can decrease hiccuping:
- Gargling with water
- Putting a cold compress on your face
- Breathing into a paper bag
- Blowing up a balloon
- 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
- Taking deep, slow breaths
- Sitting down and pulling your knees to your chest for one minute
- Use smelling salts
- Place a 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)
How can hiccups in infants and babies be stopped?
As in adults, hiccups in newborns, infants, and babies are common and generally of no concern. If hiccups occur during feeding, stop feeding until the hiccups go away. Usually, the hiccups will "go away" in an infant or baby. You may try changing the position of the infant or baby; try to get your baby to burp, or calm him/her down to cure the hiccups. Sometimes resuming feeding will stop the hiccups. If your baby frequently has hiccups during feedings, feed your baby when he or she is already relaxed and is not overly hungry yet.
If your child's hiccups worsen or they seem to upset him, contact your pediatrician.
Are there any complications of hiccups?
Because most cases of hiccups resolve themselves either spontaneously or with self-administered treatment, complications are extremely rare.
Wilkes, G., et al. "Hiccups Treatment and Management." Medscape. Dec 29, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/775746-treatment>.
Top Hiccups Related Articles
Are Hiccups Good or Bad?In most cases, hiccups are typically harmless and last for a short duration.
Get the Facts About Bottle FeedingDo you need to warm a bottle? What's the best way to burp your baby? Find out what you need to know about bottle feeding and infant formula.
chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride and clidinium bromide (Librax)Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride and clidinium bromide (Librax) is a prescription drug used as therapy for peptic ulcer disease and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Librax also may be useful in management of acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu). Review side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and pregnancy safety information prior to taking this drug.
chlordiazepoxide (Librium)Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride (Librium) is a medication prescribed to manage anxiety disorders, and provide short term relief of anxiety symptoms, withdrawal of acute alcoholism, and preoperative apprehension and anxiety. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage and storage information, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Digestive Disorders: How to Stop Gas PainWhen gas gets stuck in your digestive system, you may feel pain or bloating. If changes in your diet or other habits don't fix it, you might need your doctor's help.
Gastroesophageal Junction AdenocarcinomaGastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma is cancer that forms in the area where the esophagus joins the stomach. Having GERD and Barrett's esophagus increases one's odds of developing gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma. Symptoms and signs of GE junction adenocarcinoma include dysphagia, weight loss, black stool, cough, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn)Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux, can cause symptoms like heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, and nausea. Learn about causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
haloperidolHaloperidol is a drug prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute psychosis, and Tourette's syndrome. Side effects include nausea, tiredness, hyperactivity, weight gain, insomnia, dry mouth, vomiting, and constipation. Haloperidol may cause a condition called "orthostatic hypotension" during the early phase of treatment (first week or two). Orthostatic hypotension causes patients to become dizzy upon arising from a lying or sitting position because of a drop in blood pressure.
Heart Attack Symptoms and Early Warning SignsRecognizing heart attack symptoms and signs can help save your life or that of someone you love. Some heart attack symptoms, including left arm pain and chest pain, are well known but other, more nonspecific symptoms may be associated with a heart attack. Nausea, vomiting, malaise, indigestion, sweating, shortness of breath, and fatigue may signal a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms and signs in women may differ from those in men.
Heart Attack vs. HeartburnHeartburn is a symptom of another disease or medical problem and can be described as a feeling of burning in the chest accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, or a sour taste or food stuck in the back of the throat. Heart attack occurs when an artery in the heart is completely blocked by a blood clot, which causes that portion of heart muscle to die. Heart attack also has symptoms of chest pain, nausea, and vomiting, however, other warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack are unusual weakness or fatigue, and persistent and/or increased severity of symptoms over a few minutes. Heart attack is a life threatening emergency. If you think you or someone you are with is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately for urgent medical treatment. It may save your life.
Heart Disease in WomenHeart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women and health professionals are not aware of the risk factors for heart disease in women and may delay diagnosis and treatment. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, tobacco use, overweight/obesity, stress, alcohol consumption, and depression influence heart disease risk in women. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes also increase women's risk of heart disease. Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), stress-ECG, endothelial testing, ankle-brachial index (ABI), echocardiogram, nuclear imaging, electron beam CT, and lab tests to assess blood lipids and biomarkers of inflammation are used to diagnose heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women saves lives. Heart disease can be prevented and reversed with lifestyle changes.
Am I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart DiseaseHeart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and know the symptoms that may require an immediate trip to the hospital.
metoclopramide, Reglan, Metozolv ODT, (Reglan ODT, Octamide, and MaxolonMetoclopramide, Reglan, Reglan ODT, Metozolv ODT, Octamide, (Maxolon discontinued) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of heartburn and esophagitis due to GERD in patients with gastroparesis. Metoclopramide is also prescribed for the treatment of impaired function of muscles of the small intestine and the nausea due to surgery or cancer chemotherapy. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing information, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
perphenazine (Trilafon - discontinued)Perphenazine (Trilafon - discontinued) is a prescription drug used to manage schizophrenia, severe nausea and vomiting in adults, and hiccups that last longer than a month. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, storage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information is provided.
What Happens After a Stroke? Signs, Symptoms, TypesWhat is a stroke? Learn about the different types of stroke, as well as many symptoms like sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, vision problems, or problems with coordination. Discover causes and recovery of a stroke.
StrokeA stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking, or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
How to Get Rid of Hiccups
The main muscle that helps your lungs expand and contract to breathe is the diaphragm, which is in your abdomen and controls the volume of your chest cavity. Hiccups (also spelled hiccough) happen when this diaphragm muscle spasms. In response, you vocal cords snap shut, causing the “hic” sound you hear with hiccups. This condition is usually harmless and temporary, but prolonged cases may indicate some disease process or digestive problem that is causing the condition.
Why Am I So Gassy and Bloated?Bloating is a feeling that your abdomen is distended or larger than normal, but it does not necessarily mean that it is. Gas (flatulence) also can be a problem if you are bloated. Common, less serious causes of bloating are eating too fast, too much, or too many fatty foods; swallowing air; pregnancy; and menstruation. Cancer and IBD (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) are examples of the more serious causes of bloating. Examples of foods and drinks that cause bloating are high-fiber foods if you don't eat them regularly; eventually the bloating and gassiness will resolve if you eat them on a regular basis; fatty greasy foods, dairy products (for example, cheese, ice cream, milk, and yogurt); foods high in salt (for example, processed, frozen, and canned foods), and artificial sweeteners. Some doctors and other health care professionals recommend natural remedies like chamomile or peppermint tea or pumpkin to relieve bloating. Examples of OTC medicine (medicine available without a prescription) and other products that may relieve bloating and gassiness are, Gas-X, Beano, Pepto Bismol, Metamucil, probiotics, and Ex-Lax for constipation associated with bloating. If you have persistent or severe gas and bloating, and if you have any of these symptoms see a doctor or other health care professional, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, bloody diarrhea, fever, or if you think you are or may be pregnant.