Hiccups are a sudden contraction or spasm of the diaphragm (the breathing muscle under the lungs). They’re a reflex action, so they aren’t under your control.
Mild hiccups are common. They usually last for only a few minutes and don’t need to be treated. However, if you have hiccups that keep coming back or that last for more than two days, you may need treatment. When hiccups last for a long time it can be distressing and uncomfortable. It can also make eating, drinking and sleeping difficult.
Hiccups can be caused by:
- Bloated stomach
- Change in the levels of certain chemicals in the blood
- Certain medicines, such as steroids, painkillers and some chemotherapy drugs
- Irritation to the diaphragm, caused by conditions such as an enlarged liver
- Irritation to the brain although this is rare.