Reasons for and approaches to treating a persistent case of the hiccups

  • Causes
  • Treatment
  • Medications
  • Prevention
  • Infants
  • Record for all time
  • Outlook
  • FAQs
  • Summary

Hiccups are a common condition that can quickly become annoying. Hiccups usually go away on their own after a few minutes, but people will sometimes resort to extreme measures to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

Singultus is the medical term for hiccups. The physiological basis of a hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Concurrently, the vocal folds and the larynx (voice box) contract, closing off the airway.

In this article, we'll look at what brings on those annoying hiccups and how to stop them in their tracks. It addresses some frequently asked questions and discusses chronic hiccups as well as hiccups in infants.

Image of a person holding their hands on their chest Pin it! Oleg Kozicka/Stocksy

It's not always possible to pin down exactly what triggers hiccups. However, hiccups can be caused by any condition that aggravates the diaphragmatic nerves. There are a variety of other possible factors.

Several of the following have been identified as potential hiccup causes by the National Organization for Rare Disorders:

  • consuming hot and spicy foods
  • the consumption of boiling liquids
  • heavy eating
  • taking in carbonated drinks
  • rushing through meals
  • using specific drugs

The presence of intense feelings or stress is another potential factor.

Methods that may get rid of hiccups Please pin this! Infographic created by Yaja' Mulcare

In almost all cases, hiccups disappear after a few minutes on their own. Hiccups can be less frequent if the underlying causes are addressed.

Here are some suggestions and natural remedies for soothing the hiccups.

Relaxation techniques: breathing and posture

When experiencing the hiccups, people can do the following, regardless of their location:

  • Taking a deep breath in, holding it for 10 seconds, then taking two more deep breaths before releasing them
  • Inhaling through a paper bag without putting it over one's head
  • hugging one's knees to one's chest
  • mildly squeezing the chest by bending forward

Consuming food and liquids

Several methods have been proposed for preventing hiccups, and they all involve consuming something. Here are some of them:

  • drinking a lot of ice water and gargling
  • The use of a few drops of vinegar in the mouth
  • putting a bit of sugar on your tongue and then gulping it down
  • A slow intake of icy water
  • chewing on a wedge of lemon

Concentrated areas of pressure

There are other methods that could be helpful for some people.

If hiccups are severe or frequent despite other treatments, a doctor may decide to prescribe medication. They might think this is the best choice for someone who is:

  • dropping pounds because of poor eating habits
  • having trouble sleeping or sleeping abnormally
  • having depressive symptoms

Medicines the doctor might prescribe include:

  • The muscle relaxant baclofen (Lioresal).
  • antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine (Largactil)
  • initially prescribed for epilepsy patients, gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Atypical antipsychotic haloperidol (Haldol)
  • the anti-nausea drug metoclopramide (Reglan).

Many cases of hiccups can be traced back to a few common causes. Avoiding the following may help people experience fewer hiccups:

  • Consuming food or liquids too rapidly
  • Having a few drinks (alcohol or soda)
  • The consumption of hot and spicy foods
  • smoking
  • Having something very cold to eat or drink after consuming something very hot, or vice versa, can cause a dramatic change in the stomach's internal temperature.
  • gum chewing

Occasionally, a medical condition like GERD, which causes acid to rise up into the food pipe, is the real cause of those embarrassing hiccups. In these situations, treating the underlying cause of the hiccups may be enough to stop them.

Hiccups are a common occurrence in infants, but as a normal part of their development, they usually don't cause any distress. But hiccups can occasionally interrupt eating and sleeping.

If hiccups occur while feeding, you can try to alleviate them by

  • shift the baby's position
  • The infant needs to be burped.
  • helping the infant relax

A baby who hiccups frequently may be experiencing a medical issue. If a baby's hiccups are severe or distressing, parents or caregivers should consult a medical professional.

Guinness World Records claims that Charles Osborne has the record for the longest hiccuping episode ever recorded. From 1922 until 1990 (a span of 68 years), he suffered from chronic hiccups.

Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are considered chronic or persistent by medical professionals. If you've had hiccups for more than a month, they're probably untreatable.

It's possible that having hiccups, especially if they are persistent and difficult to treat, lowers a person's quality of life. Fatigue, insomnia, and, if they keep a person from eating, weight loss are all possible consequences of chronic hiccups.

There is a wide range of potential causes for persistent hiccups.

Hiccups, for the most part, go away after a short while on their own. However, they may linger and cause problems with sleeping, eating, and other aspects of daily life.

Most cases of hiccups can be managed without seeing a doctor, but if your symptoms are severe, persistent, and unresponsive to other treatments, your doctor may prescribe medication.

Listed below are explanations for some frequently asked questions regarding twitches.

Is there a quick fix for the hiccups?

There is no foolproof method of eliminating hiccups immediately.

The following techniques, however, have shown some promise:

  • Taking deep breaths into a paper bag.
  • Trying not to breathe
  • Taking small sips of ice water
  • chewing on a lemon wedge
  • trying out some vinegar
  • Taking in a handful of table sugar

Why do people often experience hiccups

Itches have a number of potential causes. Stomach gas from consuming a carbonated beverage or a large meal is usually to blame.

When asked if hiccuping poses any health risks,

Hiccups, on their own, pose no health risks.

But if they persist for an extended period of time, hiccups can diminish a person's standard of living.

Is having frequent hiccups a red flag for something more serious?

A health problem could be the cause of persistent hiccups in some people. Long-lasting fits of the shakes have been linked to a number of medical issues, including:

  • tumors
  • pancreatitis
  • hepatitis
  • Liver malignancy

The hiccups will stop on their own after a few minutes, at most.

While hiccups can't be prevented entirely, there are many methods that may be effective in eliminating them. Some techniques to try include: holding your breath, drinking ice water, and biting into a lemon slice.

Hiccups can sometimes become chronic, lasting more than 48 hours. To determine the cause of persistent or frequent hiccups, a medical professional may need to conduct additional testing.

As of the most recent comprehensive health assessment, on May 31, 2022

  • Respiratory
  • Your ENT (Nose, Chest, and GI)
Peer-reviewed studies, academic institutions, medical journals, and other reputable medical sources are the only acceptable sources for Medical News Today. As a rule, we don't even bother with tertiary sources. We provide in-text citations and external links to relevant primary sources (such as studies, scientific references, and statistics) wherever possible. Our editorial policy explains the methods we use to maintain the currency and accuracy of our articles.
  • Cole, J A , et al (2021) Singultus
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538225/
  • Hiccups (2020)
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiccups/
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    https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/hiccups-chronic/
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    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180724174317.htm
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  • Polito, N B , et al (2017) A systematic review of pharmacologic treatments for chronic tachycardia  
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0736467917304791
  • Steger, M , et al (2015) Critical analysis of the literature on the causes and pharmaceutical management of tachycardia (hiccups).
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apt.13374/full
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