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Hiccups occur when the diaphragm experiences an involuntary contraction between breaths, causing the sometimes unpleasant sensation known as a hiccup.

Causes of Hiccups

Hiccups occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the specific cause is difficult to determine. Other times, it can be related to issues in the digestive tract, such as pressure on the stomach or problems with the esophagus. Frequent hiccupping can also be related to the brain, as well as the nerve that controls the diaphragm. Certain medications can also make you more predisposed to getting hiccups.

Infants are also known for getting hiccups often. Often, these occur before, during or after feedings, and they are usually not serious. If it occurs frequently, there may be some strategies you can try to minimize the occurrence of hiccups.


Most bouts of hiccups will go away on their own normally. People also try a variety of home remedies to alleviate the hiccups. This can include things such as drinking water slowly, swallowing a spoonful of sugar, or breathing slowly into a paper bag. Avoiding overeating may also help. Hiccups can also be serious if they don’t go away, so see a doctor about your hiccups if they last for more than a day, cause problems breathing or are accompanied by a bloated stomach.

To reduce hiccups in infants, you can try changing the baby’s position during feedings, burp him more frequently or feed him more frequently. Usually hiccups in infants are not serious, but you can see the doctor if they seem to be causing distress or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Cancer Society.

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