Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm muscle. They are repeated and cannot be controlled. This results in an odd, sometimes uneasy gasping sensation and sound with each hiccup.
Hiccups are caused by any number of factors that irritate the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity. Its main function is to help the lungs draw in air during breathing.
Phrenic Nerve and Diaphragm
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Factors that may increase your chance of getting hiccups include:
Hiccups may cause:
Call your doctor if your hiccups:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need tests if the doctor is concerned that the hiccups may be caused by a condition.
Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Images may be taken of your abdomen and chest. This can be done with:
Many treatments for hiccups involve stimulating nerves that may be involved. This can be done by:
Some drugs may help hiccups, including:
It is not known why some people get hiccups. There are no sure ways to prevent developing them. However, if you are prone to hiccups, you might want to avoid:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center—National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Hiccups. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 21, 2013. Accessed January 8, 2015.
What causes hiccups? Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/hiccup.html. Updated August 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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