Hiccups: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

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.

Other causes of hiccups

  • Abdominal Surgery
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Brain Trauma
  • Carbonated Beverage Consumption
  • Certain Medications
  • Chewing Gum
  • Drinking Too Much Liquid
  • Eating Too Much Food
  • Eating Too Quickly
  • Enlarged Liver
  • Nerve Damage (Neuropathy)
  • Toxic Fumes


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