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
- Hiccup facts
- 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 or cure for hiccups?
- Are there any complications of hiccups?
- Can hiccups be prevented?
What are the symptoms of hiccups?
Sudden, forceful movement of the diaphragm, that causes the hiccup sound, is the only symptom of hiccups.
When should I contact my doctor for hiccups?
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.
How are hiccups diagnosed?
Most of us know what a hiccup feels like and how to recognize it. In a medical setting, the diagnosis of hiccups is based on physical evaluation.
Blood tests or X-rays are usually not necessary unless your hiccups are a symptom of an associated medical condition.
What is the treatment or cure for hiccups?
Home Remedies for Hiccups
There are numerous home cures for hiccups. You can try these methods at home to get rid of hiccups:
Methods that cause the body to retain carbon dioxide, which is thought to relax the diaphragm and stop the spasms which cause the hiccups:
- Hold your breath
Techniques that stimulate the nasopharynx and the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to the stomach, and can decrease hiccupping:
- Drink a glass of water quickly
- Have someone frighten you
- Pull hard on your tongue
- Bite on a lemon
- Gargle with water
- Drink from the far side of a glass
- Use smelling salts
- Place one-half teaspoon of dry sugar on the back of your tongue. (This process can be repeated three times at two-minute intervals. Use corn syrup, not sugar, for young children.)
Most hiccups will stop on their own. Home remedies are generally sufficient to resolve hiccupping.
For persistent hiccups (lasting more than three hours) treatment varies.
A physician may prescribe medications for severe, chronic hiccups. Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) is usually the first-line medication prescribed for hiccups. Other medications used to treat hiccups include haloperidol (Haldol) and metoclopramide (Reglan).
Some muscle relaxants, sedatives, analgesics, and even stimulants have also been reported to help alleviate hiccup symptoms.
Phrenic nerve surgery (the nerve that controls the diaphragm) is a treatment of last resort. This treatment is rarely performed and used only in cases that do not respond to other treatments.
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