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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Medical Symptoms > Hiccups
      Category : Health Centers > Respiratory System (Lungs and Breathing)


Alternate Names : Diaphragmatic Spasms

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Hiccups are a sound produced by an unintentional movement of the diaphragm, followed by rapid closing of the vocal cords. The diaphragm is the muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity.

What is going on in the body?

Hiccups can develop when a stimulus triggers the nerves that contract the diaphragm. Air is then inhaled involuntarily. This lowers the diaphragm and allows bursts of air into the lungs. The air closes the vocal cords and creates the characteristic hiccup sound.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The cause of the diaphragm contractions is unknown. The condition can be related to:

  • nervousness
  • overeating
  • esophagitis, or irritation of the lining of the esophagus
  • indigestion
  • drinking carbonated beverages
  • pregnancy
  • alcoholism
  • Sometimes hiccups are a complication of a condition, such as pneumonia. They may occur following chest or stomach surgery. A brain tumor or stroke can interfere with the breathing center in the brain and cause hiccups.


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    Hiccups: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Dr. Karen Wolfe, MBBS, MA
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/02/01

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