Hiccups are a common phenomenon but little is known about their pathophysiological mechanism or function. The concept of a hiccup reflex lacks a scientific basis. Closure of the glottis may be caused by an active contraction or by a passive, sudden myoclonic contraction of the inspiratory musculature, leading to a rapid reduction in intrathoracic pressure. Hiccups are often benign and of short duration but they can sometimes be a serious medical problem due to their chronicity and underlying causes. Many remedies for hiccups have been reported, such as manoeuvres, medical treatment and invasive procedures. Chlorpromazine is the only drug that is registered for the treatment of persistent hiccups but it has many side effects. Baclofen is often used in practice, and favourable experiences with piracetam are known.