Most people get hiccups sometimes. They should only last a few minutes. You can usually wait for them to go away or treat them yourself without seeing a GP.
Things you can do yourself to stop or prevent hiccups
Although many people find these things helpful, there's no evidence that they work for everyone.
breathe into a paper bag (do not put it over your head)
pull your knees up to your chest and lean forward
sip ice-cold water
swallow some granulated sugar
bite on a lemon or taste vinegar
hold your breath for a short time
do not drink alcoholic, fizzy or hot drinks
do not chew gum or smoke – these can cause you to swallow air
do not eat spicy food
do not eat food very quickly
do not eat or drink something very cold immediately after something hot
Why we get hiccups
There's often no obvious reason why you get hiccups, but some people find certain things trigger their hiccups, such as:
- strong emotions, like excitement
- eating and drinking
In rare cases, hiccups that last longer than 48 hours can be due to a medical condition or a medicine you're taking.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if your hiccups:
- last longer than 48 hours
- come back very often and are affecting your life
Treatment from a GP
The GP will want to find out if your hiccups are caused by a health condition or medicine you're taking. Treating the condition or changing your medicine should stop your hiccups.
If there's no obvious cause, they might be able to prescribe a medicine called chlorpromazine to treat your hiccups. This does not work for everyone.
Page last reviewed: 13 July 2020
Next review due: 13 July 2023