Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is there any sort of condition that affects your diaphragm?"
I seem to get the hiccups a lot and they last for hours when I get them. Could something be wrong with my diaphragm? Are there any diseases or conditions that affect the diaphragm only or would something in my stomach be causing my hiccups?
Hiccups are in fact, as you are mentioning, caused by uncontrollable intermittent contractions of the diaphragm muscle. Attacks of hiccups are quite common and can last several hours to days. Usually, these attacks are benign and do not require any medical evaluation. In most of these cases of self resolving hiccups the cause of the attack is probably gas distention, irritation of the stomach, or indigestion. Rarely, hiccups are a sign of a serious underlying medical disorder. If you have attacks of hiccups that last for longer than 48 hours or if the hiccups have been going on pretty persistently for 1 month or so then you will want to go see your primary care doctor to start a workup. Your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination looking for evidence of a cause of the hiccups, such an object or inflammation in your ear canal, evidence of a neurological problem, or evidence of a mass or infection pressing on or irritating the diaphragm. Sometimes, simple laboratory tests or radiological studies are also needed in these cases to help exclude serious causes. However, as I said before, most cases of hiccups are not serious and if the attacks resolve, even if they last a few hours, you probably don't need to worry.
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