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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Chronic hiccups

Other Names for this Disease
  • Hiccups, intractable
  • Intractable hiccups
  • Intractable singultus
  • Persistent hiccups
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What causes chronic hiccups?

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm becomes irritated. Some things that irritate the diaphragm are eating too quickly or too much, an irritation in the stomach or the throat, or feeling nervous or excited.[1] In many cases, there is no obvious cause (idiopathic).[2][3]

Some additional causes include:[2][3]
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Any disease or disorder that irritates the nerves that control the diaphragm (such as pleurisy or pneumonia)
  • Hot and spicy foods or liquids
  • Noxious fumes
  • Stroke or tumor affecting the 'hiccup center' in the brain
  • Use of alcohol and/or tobacco in excess

There are many known causes of chronic hiccups, among which the most prominent is esophagitis due to gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).[4][5] Other cases occur in association with central nervous system problems or result from serious pathophysiological processes affecting a component of the hiccup reflex mechanism.[4][3][5] A full systemic inquiry, surgical history, and comprehensive drug history may reveal one of the many causes.[3]

You can click on the links below to access comprehensive listings of the causes of chronic hiccups.
Last updated: 2/20/2012

  1. What Causes Hiccups?. KidsHealth from Nemours. October 2011; Accessed 11/28/2011.
  2. Vorvick L. Hiccups. MedlinePlus. January 2011; Accessed 11/28/2011.
  3. Wilkes G. Hiccups. eMedicine. July 2010; Accessed 11/28/2011.
  4. Cabane J. Chronic hiccup. Orphanet. 2004; Accessed 11/28/2011.
  5. Cabane J. Chronic hiccup. Orphanet . July 2004; Accessed 11/28/2011.