Hiccups - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle. During hiccups, a contraction occurs, which is followed by the sudden closure of vocal cords- that produces a hic sound. Mostly it stops on it so own. But sometimes, it can be an indication of an underlying medical condition. It can occur due to overeating, consuming too much alcohol, sudden excitement, or drinking a carbonated beverage. Normally hiccups stop in some minutes. Very rarely, it continues for months, which can be exhausting.



Hiccups themselves is a symptom that occurs due to other conditions. Sometimes it may be accompanied by chest tightness or a feeling of tightness in the throat or abdomen. If you have hiccups that last more than 48 hours or if they are severe that you are unable to talk, sleep, eat or breathe, you should seek professional advice. Do not delay your visit to the healthcare provider.  



Hiccups can occur due to various reasons. It can be triggered due to various factors that include;


·         Eating too much

·         Excitement 

·         Emotional stress

·         Drinking carbonated beverages

·         Drinking too much alcohol

·         Sudden temperature changes

·         Swallowing air with chewing gum 


If hiccups occur due to any of the above-mentioned reasons, it mostly stops in 48 hours. 


Hiccups, if persist, for more than 48 hours, can be due to other factors such as;


·         Central nervous system disorders 

·         Nerve irritation or damage

·         Metabolic disease and drugs


Central nervous system disorders


An infection or a tumor in the central nervous system or its damage can disrupt the normal hiccup reflex. It can occur due to conditions like;


·         Encephalitis

·         Meningitis

·         Traumatic brain injury

·         Tumors

·         Multiple sclerosis

·         Stroke


Nerve irritation or damage


Long-term hiccups can occur due to irritation of phrenic nerves or vagus nerves that compress the diaphragm muscle. Factors leading to irritation and damage to these nerves can be;


·         Something like hair touching your eardrum

·         Cyst or goiter in the neck

·         Tumor in the neck

·         Sore throat

·         Laryngitis 

·         Gastroesophageal reflux


Metabolic disease and drugs


Drugs that can cause hiccups are;


·         Barbiturates

·         Anesthetic agents

·         Steroids

·         Tranquilizers


Diseases that cause hiccups are;


·         Diabetes

·         Electrolyte imbalance

·         Kidney disease


Consuming too much alcohol can also cause hiccups. 

Risk factors

Factors that can lead to hiccups are;


Male gender


Long-term hiccups occur more in men as compared to women. However, this may not be the case all the time. 




Mental or emotional stress can lead to short-term or long-term hiccups.




Being too excited can lead to hiccups, mostly for the short term. 




People undergoing abdominal surgery or those who have recently undergone general anesthesia are at risk of developing hiccups.  



Hiccups, if do not stop in a short time, can cause problems like;


·         Difficulty eating, which in turn can cause weight loss. 

·         Difficulty falling asleep. 

·         Impaired wound healing due to constant movement because of hiccups. 

·         Inability to speak properly.


How to Stop Hiccups?


To stop hiccups, you can try breathing in the paper or holding your breath for some seconds and then releasing it. Both these techniques help build carbon dioxide in your lungs, which in turn relaxes the muscles of the diaphragm. Sometimes drinking milk can also help stop hiccups. 


If hiccups persist for a long time, you should visit your healthcare provider as it can be a sign of some underlying health condition. 



Hiccups can be painful, if persist for a long time. They can occur due to various reasons but commonly it occurs due to overeating, gastric acid reflux, and drinking carbonated beverages. 


Doctors For Hiccups

Dr. Samia Khan

General Physician

35 Years

Dr. M.Inam Ullah Saleem

General Physician

32 Years

Dr. Farhat Ali

General Physician

29 Years

Dr. Muhammad Saeed Uz Zaman

General Physician

21 Years

Dr. Prof. Aziz Ur Rehman

General Physician

20 Years

Dr. Ghazala Iftikhar

General Physician

19 Years

Dr. Muhammad Shahzad Aslam

General Physician

19 Years

Dr. Munazza

General Physician

15 Years

Dr. Nazeef Ur Rehman

General Physician

15 Years

Doctors for Hiccups in Different Cities