Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm — the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen and plays an important role in breathing. Each contraction is followed by a sudden closure of your vocal cords, which produces the characteristic “hic” sound.

Hiccups may result from a large meal, alcoholic or carbonated beverages or sudden excitement. In some cases, hiccups may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. For most people, a bout of hiccups usually lasts only a few minutes. Rarely, hiccups may persist for months. This can result in weight loss and exhaustion.

The Symptoms of Hiccups

Hiccupping is a symptom. It may sometimes be accompanied by a slight tightening sensation in your chest, abdomen or throat.

The Causes of Hiccups —

The most common triggers for hiccups that last less than 48 hours include:

  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Eating too much
  • Excitement or emotional stress
  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Swallowing air with chewing gum or sucking on candy

Hiccups that last more than 48 hours may be caused by a variety of factors, which can be grouped into the following categories.

Nerve damage or irritation —

A cause of long-term hiccups is damage to or irritation of the vagus nerves or phrenic nerves, which serve the diaphragm muscle. Factors that may cause damage or irritation to these nerves include:

  • A hair or something else in your ear touching your eardrum
  • A tumor, cyst or goiter in your neck
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Sore throat or laryngitis

Central nervous system disorders

A tumor or infection in your central nervous system or damage to your central nervous system as a result of trauma can disrupt your body’s normal control of the hiccup reflex. Examples include:

  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Tumors

Metabolic disorders and drugs

Long-term hiccups can be triggered by:

  • Alcoholism
  • Anesthesia
  • Barbiturates
  • Diabetes
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Kidney disease
  • Steroids
  • Tranquilizers

The Risk factors involved —

Men are much more likely to develop long-term hiccups than are women. Other factors that may increase your risk of hiccups include:

  • Mental or emotional issues. Anxiety, stress and excitement have been associated with some cases of short-term and long-term hiccups.
  • Surgery. Some people develop hiccups after undergoing general anesthesia or after procedures that involve abdominal organs.

Complications of Hiccups

Prolonged hiccups may interfere with:

  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Speech
  • Wound healing after surgery


During the physical exam, your doctor may perform a neurological exam to check your:

  • Balance and coordination
  • Muscle strength and tone
  • Reflexes
  • Sight and sense of touch

If your doctor suspects an underlying medical condition may be causing your hiccups, he or she may recommend one or more of the following tests.

Laboratory tests

Samples of your blood may be checked for signs of:

  • Diabetes
  • Infection
  • Kidney disease

Imaging tests

These types of tests may be able to detect anatomical abnormalities that may be affecting the vagus nerve, phrenic nerve or diaphragm. Imaging tests may include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Most cases of hiccups go away on their own without medical treatment. If an underlying medical condition is causing your hiccups, treatment of that illness may eliminate the hiccups. The following treatments may be considered for hiccups that have lasted longer than two days.


Drugs that may be used to treat long-term hiccups include:

  • Baclofen
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Metoclopramide

The Treatment Principle according Ayurveda —

  • Udavarta Chikitsa
  • Agni Dipana
  • Svasakasahara medicines
  • Toya Panam and Ambu shekam
  • Vata Anulomanam
  • Muhur muhur oushadha
  • Mridu svedana and Mrdu Virechanam

Kashayam —

  • Gandharva hastadi Kashayam
  • Bhadradi Kashayam
  • Chiravilvadi Kashayam
  • Balajirakadi Kashayam
  • Nayopayam Kashayam
  • Brihat Nayopayam Kashayam

Churnam —

  • Vaishvanaram Churna
  • Jathilavangadi Churna
  • Karpuradi Churnam

Gutika —

  • Dhanvantara Gutika
  • Maha Dhanvantara Gutika
  • Kasthuri Gutika
  • Hinguvachadi Vati
  • Asalyadi Gutika
  • Vayu Gutika

Lehyam —

  • Mathula Rasayanam
  • Nayopaya Lehyam
  • Vilvadi Lehyam
  • Svasahara Lehyam

Ghritam —

  • Dadimadi Ghritam
  • Sukumara Ghritam

Asava/ Arishtam —

Rasayana —

  • Sukumara Lehyam
  • Kalyanaka Gudam

Rasa Oushadham —

  • Mayura Piccha Bhasmam
  • Shankha Bhasma
  • Kamadugha rasam
  • Mukta Pishti
  • Sutashekhara Rasa

Other Yogas —

  • Agasthya Rasayanam
  • Haritakyaadi Rasayanam
  • Kushmanda Rasayanam
  • Vasishta Rasayanam

External Application (Chest Region) —

  • Karpura Tailam
  • Lakshadi Tailam

Svedam —

  • Mrdu svedam with hot water

Virechanam —

  • Kalyanaka Gudam
  • Trivrit Lehyam
  • Dashamula haritaki lehyam
  • Sukumara Lehyam
  • Haritaki Churnam

Medical Disclaimer. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

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