Lakeland Health Care

A-Z Health Encyclopedia

Search Health Information   
 

Hiccups

Definition

A hiccup is an unintentional movement (spasm) of the diaphragm, the muscle at the base of the lungs. The spasm is followed by quick closing of the vocal cords, which produces a distinctive sound.

Alternative Names

Singultus

Considerations

Hiccups often start for no apparent reason and usually disappear after a few minutes. In rare cases, hiccups can last for days, weeks, or months. Hiccups are common and normal in newborns and infants.

Common Causes

  • Abdominal surgery
  • Disease or disorder that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm (such as pleurisy or pneumonia)
  • Hot and spicy foods or liquids
  • Harmful fumes
  • Stroke or tumor affecting the brain

There may be no obvious cause for hiccups.

Home Care

There is no sure way to stop hiccups, but there are a number of common suggestions that can be tried:

  • Breathe repeatedly into a paper bag.
  • Drink a glass of cold water.
  • Eat a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Hold your breath.

Call your health care provider if

Contact your health care provider if hiccups go on for more than a few days.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

If hiccups continue to the point that you visit your health care provider, a medical history will be taken and a physical examination will be performed.

Medical history questions may include:

  • Do you get hiccups easily?
  • How long has this episode of hiccups lasted?
  • Did you recently eat something hot or spicy?
  • Did you recently drink carbonated beverages?
  • Have you been exposed to any fumes?
  • What have you tried to relieve the hiccups?
  • What has been effective for you in the past?
  • How effective was the attempt?
  • Did the hiccups stop for a while and then restart?
  • Do you have other symptoms?

Diagnostic tests are rarely needed unless a disease or disorder is suspected as the cause.

To treat persistent hiccups, the health care provider may perform gastric lavage or massage of the carotid sinus in the neck. Do not try carotid massage by yourself. This must be done by a health care provider.

If hiccups continue, medicines may help. Tube insertion (nasogastric intubation) may also help.

In very rare cases, if medicines or other methods do not work, treatment such as phrenic nerve block may be tried. The phrenic nerve controls the diaphragm.

References

Bilotta F, Rosa G. Symptomatic care pending diagnosis; hiccups. In: Bope ET, Kellerman RD, eds. Cohn’s Current Therapy: 2013. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 1.


Review Date: 1/22/2013
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
 

Patients & Visitors

For Patients
Maps & Directions
For Visitors
Phone Numbers

Online Tools

For Visitors
For Physicians
For Associates
Find Education
Laboratory Test Catalog
Community Health
Needs Assessment
Pay Your Bill Online
Refer a Patient
View the Nursery

Quality & Safety

Awards & Recognition
It's Okay to Ask
Quality Care
 
Connect with us on:
                  Bookmark and Share

 

 

Locations

 

 

            
    Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph  
    Lakeland Hospital, Niles  
    Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet  
    Center for Outpatient Services, St. Joseph  
     
     
 
       
         
   

Your generosity can make a difference in the lives of others.
Donate now.

© 2014   Lakeland HealthCare   1234 Napier Avenue   St. Joseph, Michigan 49085   1-800-968-0115
Contact Us   |   Notice of Patient Privacy Practices   |   Sitemap