Hiccups: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 1/29/2016

Hiccups is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm muscle that results in a characteristic cough-like "hic" sound due to closure of the vocal cords. Hiccups are common and can affect anyone. Eating or drinking too quickly is a common cause of hiccups. Sometimes a cause for hiccups cannot be identified. Any event that causes irritation to the diaphragm or the nerves that supply the diaphragm can cause hiccups. Medical causes such as nerve damage, stroke, and tumors are rare causes of hiccups. Babies may have hiccups after bouts of crying or coughing. Most cases of hiccups resolve on their own. Breath-holding and drinking a glass of water are common ways to stop hiccups. Medications are only given as treatment for severe and persistent hiccups that do not resolve.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.