Hiccups All Day On and Off: 8 Causes Explained.

Our content is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice by your doctor. Use for informational purposes only.

What you need to know:

Hiccups almost affect everyone, from babies to the elderly. A typical bout of hiccup lasts for a few minutes. But hiccups may become prolonged or recurrent (on and off) for days or months.

Simple Hiccups bouts are often caused by gastric distension as with:

  • Eating too quickly or too much.
  • Drinking carbonated drinks or iaclohol.
  • Swallowing too much air.

Sometimes, you may experience hiccups all day on and off without apparent reason. But if hiccups keep coming back for two days or more, you should see a doctor.

Hiccups are more frequent in newborns and babies. Don’t worry if hiccups occasionally come and go unless your baby vomits or experiences other severe symptoms.

On and off hiccups all day for several days is no longer benign and may reflect a disease such as:

  • Gut diseases: such as gastritis, acid reflux, or hiatal hernia.
  • Sore throat.
  • FB in the ear canal (irritation of eardrum).
  • Alcoholi abuse, Renal failure.
  • Chest diseases such as pneumonia, pleural inflammation (pleurisy), enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes.
  • Neurological diseases such as brain stroke or tumors.
  • Emotional causes such as severe anxiety or stress.

Any hiccups that keep coming and going for more than two days require an evaluation by your doctor.

Acute Hiccups (bouts).

Chronic Hiccups ( more than 48 hours).

Attacks of hiccups last for a short time (often minutes).Persistent hiccups last days or months.
Very common.Rare.
Occurs in healthy individuals.Occurs secondary to disease.
Resolve spontaneously.Often requires treatment (anti-hiccup treatment plus treatment of the cause).
Commonly due to gastric distension (overeating, carbonated drinks, swallowing of air).Reflects serious conditions such as chronic digestive system, chest, or brain disease.”
No need to see a doctor.Consult your doctor.

The most common causes of hiccups all day on and off are discussed in detail below:

1 . Simple hiccups (less than 48 hours):

The typical bout of hiccups lasts for a few minutes. Rarely, it can be recurrent all day on and off but never exceeds 48 hours.

Simple acute hiccups are often caused by irritation of the diaphragm. Common triggers or acute hiccups include:

  • Stomach distension (overeating food).
  • Drinking carbonated drinks.
  • Drinking ialcohol.
  • Eating too quickly.
  • Sudden temperature change.
  • Swallowing too much air.

Hiccups can come and go all day in newborns and babies. Although we don’t know the exact purpose of hiccups, It tends to be more common in newborns and babies.

One study found that babies spend 2.5% of their time hiccups. The fetus inside the womb also hiccups multiple times a day.

2. On and Off hiccups for more than 48 hours

If you keep getting hiccups on and off all day for multiple days, you should see your doctor. Hiccups that come and go for several days, weeks, or months are no longer benign.

Chronic hiccups are often caused by a disease or condition leading to the persistence of the reflex.

Arrange a visit to your doctor to figure out the cause and define the best treatments.


The causes of chronic (persistent and intractable) hiccups are in the table below (reference)


Causes of Chronic Hiccups.

1. Digestive system– Gastric distension
– Chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
– GERD and esophagitis.
– Stomach or esophageal cancer.
– Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
– Gallbladder diseases (as gallstone disease).
– Inflammatory bowel disease, Bowel obstruction.
2. Toxic/ Metabolic.– Alcoholoabuse.
– Diabetes Mellitus.
– Renal failure.
– Hypocalcemia, Hyponatremia (↓ sodium).
3. Neurological diseases– Cerebral stroke.
– Severe head trauma.
– Brain tumors.
– Multiple sclerosis.
– Infections (brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis).
– Malformation of brain blood vessels.
– Inflammations of the vessel wall (as temporal arteritis)
4. Diseases in the Chest– Pneumonia, bronchitis.
– enlarged lymph nodes around the esophagus (mediastinal LNs).
– Bronchial asthma.
– Inflammation of the lung envelope (pleurisy) or pus (empyema).
– Tumors and trauma of the mediastinum.
5. Vagus & phrenic nerve irritation– Pharyngitis and laryngitis.
– FB or hair inside the air (irritation of eardrum).
– Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
– Neck cysts or neck tumors.
6. Drugs that cause Hiccups– Chemotherapy (as carboplatin).
– Corticosteroids(as dexamethasone).
– Some anti-hypertensives such as Alphamethyldopa.
– Sedativesosuch as Barbituratesoandodiazipam.
7. Psychogenic– Anorexia Nervosa.
– Post-traumatic stress disorder.
– Extreme excitement, stress.
– Schizophrenia, conversion reactions.
– Malingering.
8. After operations– General Anaesthesia (anesthetic medications affect digestive system motility).
– Insertion of the endotracheal tube (during general anesthesia).
9. Others.– Myocardial infarction.
– Inflammation of the membrane surrounding your heart (pericarditis).
– Access under the diaphragm (subphrenic abscess).
– Malaria, TB, Herpes Zoster, and Covid-19 (reference).