Hiccups are a very common phenomenon related to contractions of the diaphragm. The typical sound associated with hiccups stems from the vocal cords snapping shut. In the majority of cases, hiccups will only last a few minutes before subsiding. However, in some cases, they can last for many weeks and be associated with more significant underlying pathology.


Men tend to develop hiccups more often than women. 


Symptoms Less Than 48 Hours

In cases which last less than a couple of days, the commonest causes are as follows –

Carbonated drinks
Excessive chewing

Symptoms More Than 48 Hours

Hiccups which last more than 2 days are often associated with damage to the nerves which supply the diaphragm – the vagus nerve or phrenic nerves. This can be related to the following:

A neck swelling
Acid reflux
Sore throat
Kidney disease

A disorder of the central nervous system such as

• Meningitis
• Stroke
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Tumour


The following measures may be helpful –

Breathing into a paper-bag
Gargling with ice water
Biting on a lemon
Sipping ice-cold water
Child-pose in yoga
Swallow a teaspoon of granulated sugar
Smaller meals
Medication such as the use of Maxolon

Article written by Dr Aleesha Dhillon
Disclaimer: This article is solely for information purposes. It is not to replace a consultation with a qualified health professional. It should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. The article is based on the opinions of the author who retains copyright. You are advised to make your own health decisions based on your research and alongside a qualified health professional. Please consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.


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