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What are hiccups?

Hiccups are strange gulping sounds caused by involuntary sudden contractions (spasms) of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the chest.

Hiccups often accompany indigestion or having an over-full stomach from overeating that presses against the diaphragm. A child may have hiccups after drinking too much soda.

How can I take care of my child?

Give 1 teaspoon of dry granulated sugar to your child and have him swallow it quickly. If this doesn't work the first time, repeat it 3 times at 2-minute intervals. Babies can be given a swallow of water. The child should also lie down.

If this doesn't work, gag your child 1 or 2 times by pushing down on the back of the tongue with the handle of a spoon or a toothbrush.

Other ways to cause gagging are rubbing the uvula or soft palate with a cotton swab, or pulling the tongue outward with the fingers.

When should I call my child's health care provider?


The hiccups last more than 3 hours (the usual time needed to empty the stomach) and your child is uncomfortable.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-02-24
Last reviewed: 2006-02-23
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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