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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are repeated spasms of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that helps you breathe. It is located between your chest and abdomen.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups often occur when the nerve that controls the diaphragm becomes irritated. The following commonly cause hiccups:

  • Food eaten too fast, or a full stomach
  • Alcohol, or carbonated liquids such as soda
  • Emotional excitement, such as feeling nervous or stressed
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes or appendicitis
  • Certain medicines, such as steroids or antianxiety medicines

How are hiccups treated?

Hiccups usually go away on their own within a few minutes. You may need medicine or other treatments if your hiccups are caused by another medical condition. The following home treatments may help stop your hiccups:

  • Hold your breath and silently count to 10.
  • Drink a large glass of water, sip ice water, or gargle with water.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy.
  • Swallow a spoonful of sugar or peanut butter.
  • Breathe into a paper bag.
  • Have another person try to scare you.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What are the risks of hiccups?

Your hiccups may last longer than 48 hours, or they may come back frequently. If you have hiccups for more than 48 hours, you may have an underlying medical condition. This may include nerve damage, gastric reflux, or a tumor. You may have vomiting, chest discomfort, and tiredness with severe hiccups. Your hiccups may interfere with your ability to sleep, eat, or breathe. This can cause exhaustion, weight loss, or insomnia.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your hiccups last longer than 48 hours, or they keep coming back.
  • Your hiccups interfere with your ability to sleep, eat, or breathe.
  • Your hiccups cause pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Hiccups

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.