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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Chronic hiccups


Other Names for this Disease
  • Chronic hiccough
  • Chronic hiccup
  • Hiccups, intractable
  • Intractable hiccups
  • Intractable singultus
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I have experienced several bouts of hiccups that go on for several weeks to months with no relief. I have had all of the normal tests to determine a cause, but no cause has been identified. I also have other stomach problems. What causes intractable hiccups? What tests may be conducted to determine the underlying cause of intractable hiccups? Can intractable hiccups be related to other stomach problems? How might intractable hiccups be treated?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What causes chronic hiccups?

Although the exact underlying cause of chronic hiccups is often unknown, many factors can contribute to the development of hiccups. For example, common triggers for hiccups include hot or spicy foods and liquids; harmful fumes; surgery; and/or certain medications.[1] Chronic hiccups can also be associated with a variety of health problems including:[2][3]
  • Pneumonia, pleurisy and other conditions that irritate the diaphragm
  • Brain abnormalities (i.e. strokes, tumors, injuries, infections)
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Gastrointestinal (esophagus, stomach, small/large intestines) diseases
  • Psychological problems such as hysteria, shock, fear, and personality disorders
  • Liver abnormalities
  • Kidney disorders

For a comprehensive listings of factors that can cause chronic hiccups, please click here.
Last updated: 12/23/2014

How are chronic hiccups diagnosed?

A diagnosis of chronic hiccups is usually obvious based on symptoms. However, a complete physical exam with various laboratory tests and imaging studies (i.e. chest X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, and/or fluoroscopy of the diaphragm) may be performed to determine the underlying cause.[2][3]

For more information about the workup and diagnosis of chronic hiccups, please click here.
Last updated: 12/24/2014

How might chronic hiccups be treated?

Treatment for chronic hiccups often varies based on the underlying cause. In many cases, medications can be prescribed to treat chronic hiccups. These may include:[2][3]
Rarely, medications may not be effective in the treatment of chronic hiccups. In these cases, surgery to temporarily or permanently block the phrenic nerve may be performed. The phrenic nerve controls the diaphragm.[3]
Last updated: 12/24/2014

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Chronic hiccough
  • Chronic hiccup
  • Hiccups, intractable
  • Intractable hiccups
  • Intractable singultus
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.