In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Hiccups are a not uncommon occurrence that most people experience at some point in their lifetime. The medical term is singultus, which derives from the Latin “singult” meaning ‘to catch one’s breath while sobbing.’ Hiccups result from a sudden and involuntary contraction of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. An abrupt closure of the glottis follows the contractions which produces the characteristic “hic” sound. Often, these episodes are transient and resolve within 48 hours. They can occur in adults, children, infants, and in utero. In adults, they serve no physiological purpose. The belief is that they may play a role in respiratory muscle training in utero. Acute hiccups can be uncomfortable, and a brief annoyance, however persistent and intractable hiccups have a significant impact on quality of life by interfering with eating, sleeping, speaking, and social activities, and can be a harbinger of serious medical pathology.

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