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Hiccups in Children: Care Instructions


Hiccups occur when a spasm contracts the diaphragm. This is a large sheet of muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. The spasm causes an intake of breath that is suddenly stopped by the closing of the vocal cords. This closure causes the "hiccup" sound.

A very full stomach can cause hiccups. This can happen from eating too much food too quickly or swallowing too much air. These hiccups will stop on their own.

Most hiccups go away on their own within a few minutes to a few hours and don't require any treatment.

Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours are called persistent hiccups. Hiccups that last longer than a month are called intractable hiccups. Both kinds of hiccups may be a sign of a more serious health problem. Tests may be needed to help find the cause.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Try these safe and easy home remedies if hiccups are making your child uncomfortable. Have your child:
    • Hold their breath and count slowly to 10.
    • Quickly drink a glass of cold water.
    • Eat a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Be safe with medicines. If the doctor prescribed medicine for your child, give it as directed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with any medicine.

How can you prevent them?

  • Help your child to avoid swallowing air. You can teach your child to:
    • Eat slowly and avoid gulping food or beverages.
    • Chew food thoroughly before swallowing.
    • Avoid drinking through a straw.
    • Avoid chewing gum or eating hard candy.
  • Remind your child to avoid getting too full when they eat.
  • Have your child avoid sudden changes in stomach temperature, such as drinking a hot beverage and then a cold beverage.
  • Help your child avoid emotional stress or too much excitement.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child has hiccups for more than 2 days.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.