Chronic hiccups

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. Chronic hiccups can also be associated with a variety of health problems including:

  • 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 on 05-01-20

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.

For more information about the workup and diagnosis of chronic hiccups, please click here.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Are chronic hiccups inherited?

Chronic hiccups are not thought to be inherited. Most cases occur sporadically in people with no family history of the condition.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with chronic hiccups?

The long-term outlook (prognosis) for people with chronic hiccups depends on the cause. Chronic hiccups are often associated with underlying medical conditions that vary in severity.

Depending on how long the hiccups last, affected people may experience the following complications regardless of the underlying cause:

Last updated on 05-01-20

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:

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.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Selected Full-Text Journal Articles

Chronic Hiccups: An Underestimated Problem

Kohse EK, Hollmann MW, Bardenheuer HJ, Kessler, J. Chronic Hiccups: An Underestimated Problem. Anesthesia & Analgesia: 2017 Oct;125(4):1169-1183.

Last updated on 04-27-20

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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