John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
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.
In this Article
- What are hiccups?
- What causes hiccups?
- What are the symptoms of hiccups?
- When should I contact my doctor for hiccups?
- How are hiccups diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for hiccups?
- Are there any complications of hiccups?
- Can hiccups be prevented?
- Hiccups At A Glance
Are there any complications of hiccups?
Because most cases of hiccups resolve themselves either spontaneously or with self-administered treatment, complications are extremely rare.
In severe and persistent cases, where hiccups disturb eating and sleeping patterns, weight loss or sleep disturbances may occur.
More uncommonly, cardiac arrhythmias and gastroesophageal reflux have been noted in severe cases of hiccups.
Can hiccups be prevented?
Hiccups cannot always be prevented. Avoiding overeating, eating too quickly, or drinking too much can help prevent hiccups.
Hiccups At A Glance
- A hiccup is a sudden, involuntary contraction (spasm) of the diaphragm
muscle. When the muscle spasms, the vocal cords snap shut, producing the hiccup
- Common causes of hiccups include eating too quickly, eating or drinking too
much, diseases that irritate the nerves that control the diaphragm, abdominal
surgery, strokes or brain tumors, noxious fumes, and certain medications.
- Most cases of hiccups resolve themselves in a short period of time and are
rarely a medical emergency. See your doctor if hiccups last more than three
hours, or if they disturb your eating or sleeping habits.
- Home remedies for hiccups include: holding your breath, drinking a glass of
water quickly, pulling hard on your tongue, biting on a lemon, gargling with
water, and using smelling salts.
- A physician may prescribe medications such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine),
haloperidol (Haldol), and metoclopramide (Reglan) for severe, persistent
- Avoid overeating, eating too quickly, or drinking too much to help prevent hiccups.
Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, "Hiccups."
The Scientific American, "What Causes Hiccups?"
emedicine.com, "Hiccups: Treatment and Medications."
Last Editorial Review: 7/9/2009
Viewers share their comments
Get the latest treatment options.