Good Question 'Reply All': Hiccups, Away Games & QWERTYToni asked: What causes hiccups? The diaphragm, the muscle just below the rib, gets irritated and starts to spasm. That causes a person to take in air quickly. When that air hits our vocal cords, out comes the hiccups. Eating and drinking too quickly, excitement, swallowing too much or smoking can be common causes of hiccups.