Hiccups occur when the diaphragm * suddenly contracts during breathing. The vocal cords quickly close, and an odd sound comes from the throat. Hiccups are involuntary. Their cause is not known, and hiccups do not seem to serve any useful purpose.

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm and lungs suddenly contract during breathing.

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm and lungs suddenly contract during breathing.
Illustration by Frank Forney. © 2016 Cengage Learning®.
What Are Various Home Cures for Hiccups?

Everyone seems to have a special way to stop hiccups, even though none of these remedies has been proved to work consistently. Here are some of the most common home cures:

What Are the Different Types of Hiccups?

Hiccups are classified into several categories. A hiccup bout can last from several seconds to several days. A persistent hiccup is one that lasts for several days or weeks. Hiccups lasting more than a month are called intractable. In rare cases, intractable hiccups may continue for years.

What Is the Treatment for Hiccups?

Everyone seems to have a favorite cure for hiccups, but usually the hiccups go away by themselves. In severe cases of hiccups, doctors may try to block the hiccup process (also called the hiccup arc or pathway) by stimulating parts of the respiratory (breathing) system or by prescribing medications to relax the muscles involved. When all else fails, surgery is done to block the nerve signals from the phrenic (FREN-ik) nerve to the diaphragm. The purpose of this procedure is to paralyze part of the diaphragm.


Books and Articles

Cukavac, Tyrus. “Can a Lollipop Cure Hiccups?” Scholastic, May 11, 2012. http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3757249 (accessed July 17, 2015).

Kim, Meeri. “Has Science Solved the Mystery of the Hiccup? Don't Hold Your Breath.” Guardian, June 6, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/06/scientific-research-hiccupscure-cause (accessed June 11, 2016).


MedlinePlus. “Hiccups.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003068.htm (accessed June 11, 2016).

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). “Hiccups, Chronic.” https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/hiccups-chronic (accessed July 17, 2015).


National Organization for Rare Disorders. 55 Kenosia Ave., Danbury, CT 06810. Telephone: 203-744-0100. Website: https://rarediseases.org (accessed July 17, 2015).

* diaphragm (DY-a-fram) is the muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities. It is the chief muscle used in breathing.

Disclaimer:   This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.

(MLA 8th Edition)