Hiccups are usually harmless. There’s often no apparent trigger for the sound made by the sharp closure of the epiglottis following an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. Hiccups typically resolve after a few minutes.
Stubborn hiccups that last more than a few days or keep coming back warrant a medical investigation as they may be a symptom of an underlying disorder, side effect of surgery, or side effect of a particular medication.
Some of the conditions, surgeries, and medications that have been associated with chronic hiccups include:
Stroke or tumor affecting the area of the brain that controls the diaphragm
A cyst, tumor, or goiter of the neck
Inflammation of the esophagus
Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the lungs
Certain epilepsy medications
The search for the underlying cause of chronic hiccups may involve specialists, various laboratory tests, and imaging studies.
Once the underlying cause is discovered, it should be managed accordingly. In some cases, no underlying cause can be found. As such, treatment for chronic hiccups is focused on symptom management. Treatment may include muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications, sedatives, stimulants, physical maneuvers, and sometimes surgery.