Diagnosis

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)

Endoscopic tests

These procedures utilize a thin, flexible tube containing a tiny camera, which is passed down your throat to check for problems in your esophagus or windpipe.

Treatment

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.

Medications

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

  • Baclofen
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Metoclopramide

Surgical and other procedures

If less invasive treatments aren't effective, your doctor may recommend an injection of an anesthetic to block your phrenic nerve to stop hiccups.

Another option is to surgically implant a battery-operated device to deliver mild electrical stimulation to your vagus nerve. This procedure is most commonly used to treat epilepsy, but it has also helped control persistent hiccups.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Although there's no certain way to stop hiccups, if you have a bout of hiccups that lasts longer than a few minutes, the following home remedies may provide relief, although they are unproven:

  • Breathe into a paper bag
  • Gargle with ice water
  • Hold your breath
  • Sip cold water

If you have chronic hiccups, lifestyle changes may help:

  • Avoid carbonated beverages and gas-producing foods
  • Eat smaller meals

Alternative medicine

When long-term hiccups don't respond to other remedies, alternative treatments, such as hypnosis and acupuncture, may be helpful.

Preparing for your appointment

While you may initially consult your family doctor about your persistent hiccups, he or she may refer you to a specialist if you have persistent or severe hiccups.

What you can do

You may want to write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
  • Information about medical problems you've had
  • Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your hiccups start?
  • How often do they occur?
  • Is there anything that worsens or alleviates them?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Have you had a sore throat or earache?
  • Do you have indigestion symptoms or bloating?
  • Have you had a sore throat or changes in your voice?
  • Have you had chest pain, a cough or difficulty breathing?
  • Do you have headaches or other neurological symptoms?
May 24, 2017
References
  1. Bope ET, et al. Symptomatic care pending diagnosis. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 6, 2017.
  2. Walsh D, et al. Hiccups. In: Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 6, 2017.
  3. Lembo AJ. Overview of hiccups. http://uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 6, 2017.
  4. Steger M, et al. Systemic review: The pathogenesis and pharmacological treatment of hiccups. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2015;42:1037.