Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm muscle. They are repeated and cannot be controlled. This results in an odd, sometimes uneasy gasping sensation and sound with each hiccup.


Hiccups are caused by any number of factors that irritate the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity. Its main function is to help the lungs draw in air during breathing.
Phrenic Nerve and Diaphragm
Phrenic Nerve
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of getting hiccups include:
  • Drinking a lot of fluids, including alcohol
  • Gastrointestinal conditions, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Dehydration
  • Stress or intense emotions
  • Some medications
  • Medical procedures, such as mechanical ventilation and intubation
  • Certain conditions that irritate the brain or nerves, such as goiter, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, or cancer


Hiccups may cause:
  • Spasms of the diaphragm muscle that repeat and cannot be controlled
  • Uneasy gasping and sound with each hiccup

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if your hiccups:
  • Last for more than 2 days
  • Are painful or get in the way of your daily life, such as eating or sleeping


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need tests if the doctor is concerned that the hiccups may be caused by a condition. Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests. Images may be taken of your abdomen and chest. This can be done with:

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

Insomnia can make your days miserable and a cure can be hard to find. There are some medications but there is some worry with side effects and the potential for addiction. Music is side effect free and according to this study may help you find sleep.

dot separator
previous editions

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »