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Disease Profile

Chronic hiccups

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

1-9 / 100 000

US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset

All ages





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Intractable singultus; Intractable hiccups; Persistent hiccups;


Digestive Diseases; Nervous System Diseases


Chronic hiccups are repeated, unintentional contractions of the breathing muscles that continue for a long period of time. Regular hiccups often develop after eating a large meal or drinking a carbonated beverage, and they typically go away on their own after a couple minutes. Chronic hiccups last over two days and in rare cases, may continue for over a month. Complications of chronic hiccups can include insomnia, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition, and depression or anxiety. The exact underlying cause is often unknown; and over 100 different causes of chronic hiccups have been reported. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and the duration of the hiccups. Treatment of chronic hiccups varies but may include medications, acupuncture, and/or surgery.[1][2][3][4]


The following list includes the most common symptoms and complications in people with chronic hiccups. These features may be different from person to person. Some people may have more symptoms than others and they can range from mild to severe. This list does not include every symptom that has been described in the condition.

Symptoms and complications may include:[1][2]

  • Hiccups that last at least 2 days
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia)
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Psychological distress

Chronic hiccups can occur at any age, but usually begin after age 50. Complications of chronic hiccups can lead to decreased quality of life.[1]

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Recurrent singultus
Recurrent hiccup
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal eating behavior
Abnormality of the diaphragm
Diaphragm issues
Diaphragmatic defect

[ more ]

Sleep disturbance
Difficulty sleeping
Trouble sleeping

[ more ]

Weight loss


Over 100 different causes of chronic hiccups have been identified. The types of causes can include:[1][2][3] 

  • Central nervous system damage
  • Irritation of the breathing muscles (diaphragm)
  • Irritation of the nerves involved in breathing
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Metabolic conditions
  • Stomach, intestine, kidney or liver disorders
  • Recent surgeries involving the stomach, chest, or central nervous system
  • Infectious diseases

In some cases, no underlying cause can be found.


Chronic hiccups are diagnosed based on the symptoms and how long the hiccups have been occurring. A complete physical exam with various laboratory tests and imaging studies may be performed to determine the underlying cause.[2]


Treatment for chronic hiccups is focused on managing the symptoms, and may be based on the underlying cause. Treatment may include medications, such as tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, antiseizure medications, pain medications, and stimulants. Other treatments include physical maneuvers, acupuncture, and sometimes, surgery.[1][3][4] 

Specialists involved in the care of someone with chronic hiccups may include: 

  • Gastroenterologist
  • Neurologist

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The Merck Manual provides information on this condition for patients and caregivers.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Merck Manual for health care professionals provides information on Chronic hiccups.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.

Selected Full-Text Journal Articles


  1. Lembo AJ. Hiccups. UpToDate. Updated Oct. 27, 2020; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/hiccups.
  2. Kohse EK, Hollmann MW, Bardenheuer HJ, Kessler J. Chronic Hiccups: An Underestimated Problem. Anesth Analg. Oct 2017; 125(4):1169-1183. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28759492.
  3. Moretto EN, Wee B, Wiffen PJ, Murchison AG. Interventions for treating persistent and intractable hiccups in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Jan 31, 2013; 2013(1):CD008768. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23440833.
  4. Yang H, Zhang R, Zhou J, Cheng Y, Li J, Xiao Q, Yin Z, Xu G, Zhao L, Liang F. Acupuncture therapy for persistent and intractable hiccups: Protocol of a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). Nov 2019; 98(44):e17561. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31689761.

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