Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Hiccups

You will probably have had hiccups (also known as hiccoughs) at some time. They can be annoying but are not usually serious and typically go away after a while. If hiccups go on for longer than two days, they are considered ‘persistent’ or long-lasting, and can interfere with eating and sleeping.

How hiccups occur

Everybody has a diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen.

Hiccups occur when your diaphragm suddenly and involuntarily contracts or tightens, causing a sharp intake of breath. When this happens, you quickly close your vocal cords, which produces the ‘hiccup’ sound.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups may start and stop without any obvious reason. However, some things do increase your chances of having hiccups including:

  • overeating, or eating too quickly
  • spicy foods
  • hot or fizzy drinks
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • stress, fear or excitement.

In rare cases, hiccups that last for days or weeks may be caused by an underlying condition, or by some medications. Some of the underlying conditions are:

Medications that have been associated with hiccups include:

Long-lasting hiccups can cause discomfort and pain, disrupt sleeping and eating, and may cause anxiety or depression.

How to stop hiccups

In most cases, an episode of hiccups will stop all on its own after a few minutes. You can try the following, although none of these have been proven to stop hiccups:

  • holding your breath for a short period
  • sipping cold water
  • breathing into a paper bag.

Other unproven remedies including biting on a lemon and getting a fright.

If your hiccups last longer than two days, see your doctor. If an underlying condition is causing your hiccups, treating it may help.

A number of medications, and also acupuncture treatments, have been used to treat long-lasting hiccups. However, it is not clear how well these treatments work.

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 87 results

Kids' Health - Topics - Hiccups and how to get rid of them!

Breathing is one of the things that your body does without you having to think about it. The brain sends messages along the phrenic (fren-ik) nerve to the diaphragm (dye-a-fram). The muscle contracts, which makes your lungs fill with the air that comes into your body through your mouth or nose.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Hiccups

Trusted information on children and baby hiccups including why they occur, how to stop hiccups, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Hiccups

Hiccups are caused by a sudden, unpredictable tightening of the diaphragm (the muscles at the bottom of the lungs that you use when breathing) -sucking air into the lungs.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Pregnancy - 25 to 28 weeks

Information on pregnancy week by week for weeks 25 to 28 including how your baby is developing, changes to your body, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Premature babies: body language | Raising Children Network

Premature babies communicate differently from full-term babies. Read our guide to premature baby body language to understand what your baby is feeling.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - About babies

Having a baby changes your life. There is a new little person to get to know, love and care for. New mums and dads may not have had a lot to do with babies until their first comes along and can have strong feelings they were not expecting.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Miracle Babies - Your baby's movements

How much should your baby move: should you count kicks? Being aware of your babys movements each day is a very good habit to have during pregnancy. Usually, an active baby is a healthy baby. Some women may not feel their baby move as much as others, even though their baby is doing well. Women who are of larger body size, or whose placenta is located at the front of the uterus may not feel their babys movements as strongly.

Read more on Miracle Babies Foundation website

Quitting products

Information on nicotine replacement therapy and prescription medications that can help you quit smoking.

Read more on WA Health website

Pentothal Powder for injection - myDr.com.au

Pentothal Powder for injection - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Aloxi Solution for infusion - myDr.com.au

Aloxi Solution for infusion - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback