Hiccough , a spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm, producing a shock in the thoracic and abdominal cavities, and accompanied by a convulsive inspiration in which the column of air is arrested by the sudden closing of the glottis, and by a loud and well known clucking sound. Authors are not agreed as to the origin of this act, but the movement is undoubtedly of a purely reflex character; though the spasmodic action be in the diaphragm, its point of departure may be in the abdominal organs or in the nervous centres. In ordinary cases it comes and goes spontaneously, and is a matter of no consequence beyond a slight inconvenience under certain circumstances; but it may be preceded by gastric symptoms, pain, and eructations, be accompanied by labored respiration, and be so persistent and severe as to require active treatment. It is often seen in children and in adults who have eaten or drunk immoderately or hastily, after long fasting, in diseases of the stomach, intestines, and liver, and in nervous persons troubled with flatulence; it becomes an important diagnostic sign in peritonitis, strangulated hernia, and other intestinal obstructions; it is not uncommon in intermittent fevers, and is a grave symptom in typhoid and gangrenous affections accompanied by other spasmodic phenomena.

In nervous persons it may be brought on by any excitement, and generally disappears with its cause; if not, a few swallows of cold or acidulated water, cold sprinkling, or vivid emotion of any kind, will put an end to it in a few moments. Obstinate cases are on record, which required cold shower baths, ice externally and internally, narcotics, and revulsives to the epigastrium. When intermittent, it yields to quinine; if symptomatic, the nature of the disease will indicate its treatment.