Hiccups in Children: Care Instructions

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Your 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 closure of the vocal cords. This closure causes the "hiccup" sound.

A very full stomach can cause hiccups. This can happen when your child eats too much food too quickly or swallows 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. Your child may get tests 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 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 his or her 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 if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.

To help prevent hiccups

  • 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 he or she swallows.
    • Avoid drinking through a straw.
    • Avoid chewing gum or eating hard candy.
  • Do not encourage your child to eat large meals.
  • 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 if:

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

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.