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Hiccups (cont.)

What causes hiccups?

Many conditions are associated with hiccups, but none has been shown to be the cause of hiccups.

  • If a person eats too fast, he or she can swallow air along with food and end up with the hiccups.
  • Smoking or chewing gum also can cause a person to swallow air and get hiccups.
  • Any other practices that might irritate the diaphragm such as eating too much (especially fatty foods) or drinking too much (alcohol or carbonated drinks) can make a person prone to having hiccups.
  • In these instances, the stomach, which sits underneath and adjacent to the diaphragm, is distended or stretched. As they occur in relation to eating and drinking, hiccups are sometimes thought to be a reflex to protect a person from choking.
  • Strokes or brain tumors involving the brain stem, and some chronic medical disorders (such as renal failure) are reported to cause hiccups; trauma to the brain, meningitis, and encephalitis also may cause hiccups.
  • Damage to the vagus or phrenic nerve may cause hiccups to last a long time.
  • Problems with the liver, including swelling, infection, or masses can cause irritation of the diaphragm, which can cause hiccups.
  • Some medications that can cause acid reflux may also have hiccups as a side effect. Most benzodiazepines, including diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) can cause hiccups. In addition, medications such levodopa (Larodopa), nicotine, and ondansetron (Zofran) can cause hiccups. Other medications that can cause hiccups include levodopa, methyldopa (Aldomet), nicotine, ondansetron (Zofran), barbiturates, opioid pain relievers, corticosteroids, anesthesia, or chemotherapy medications.
  • Noxious fumes can also trigger hiccup symptoms.
  • A baby may hiccup after crying or coughing. This is common in babies in the first year. In some instances, babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) could be more prone to hiccups.
  • Anxiety and stress can induce both short and long-term hiccups
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/19/2015

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Hiccups »

The term "hiccup" derives from the sound of the event. "Hiccough" erroneously implies an association with respiratory reflexes.

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