At some point, everyone gets hiccups, which occur when the diaphragm begins to spasm involuntarily. The diaphragm is a large muscle that helps with breathing. Spasms occur when a person inhales suddenly and their vocal cords close, causing the distinctive "hiccup" sound. Common causes are eating too much or too fast, carbonated drinks, and being stressed or excited. Holding your breath is the best known way to combat hiccups. Just take a big breath in and hold it for 10 to 20 seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat this as necessary. Slow, measured breaths over several minutes can also help. If hiccups persist for hours, whether continuous or sporadic, seek medical attention.