Excessive Yawning

Excessive Yawning: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Excessive YawningYawning is something that everyone does on an involuntary basis. In fact, one yawn may set off a chain reaction of yawns throughout a group. Andrew Gallup, a researcher at Binghamton University, says, "Yawning more accurately reflects a mechanism that maintains attention, and therefore should be looked at as a compliment!" A yawn is, in fact, a very deep inhalation. According to Scientist, Interrupted, "Yawning is a familiar behavior characterized by a large gaping of the mouth, accompanied by a deep inhalation." The diaphragm is pushed down, but comes back up and presses some of the newly inhaled air back out.Yawning involves opening the mouth involuntarily while taking a long, deep breath of air. This is usually done as a result of drowsiness or weariness. Excessive yawning is yawning that happens more often than would be expected, even if drowsiness or weariness is present.Yawning is certainly less common during sleep, but cases of it have been documented, said Matthew R. Ebben, director of laboratory operations at the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. As for why people yawn, “it is not entirely known,” Dr. Ebben said. “However, the most recent data suggests that it is part of a thermoregulatory response that helps cool the brain by shunting blood to facial muscles that act as radiators and offload heat from the redirected blood.”In a case study published in 2010 in the journal Sleep Breath, two women who had chronic, debilitating bouts of yawning were studied. Despite getting adequate sleep, they had frequent daytime attacks of yawning so severe that their eyes watered and their noses ran. Both women found that they could alleviate or postpone their symptoms by nasal breathing or applying cool cloths to their foreheads. One woman found she could stop an attack by taking a cold shower or swimming in cold water. The other woman discovered that she had a half-degree drop in oral temperature after her attacks.The researchers commented that the results were consistent with growing evidence linking excessive yawning to temperature imbalances rather than to blood levels of oxygen or carbon dioxide or some kind of sleep disorder.The main causes of yawning may include:Drowsiness or weariness.
  • Disorders associated with excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Vasovagal reaction.
  • Some medications, such as those used to treat depression, anxiety or allergies, can cause excessive yawning.
  • Aortic dissection.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Changes in sleep-wake cycle, such as shift work or travel across time zones.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (poor blood flow through the veins).
  • Electrolyte imbalance.
  • Hashimoto's thyroiditis (autoimmune disease resulting in hypothyroidism and low production of thyroid hormone).
  • Hypothyroidism (low production of thyroid hormones).
  • Medication side effects.
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties and other problems)
Symptoms:Yawning excessively may accompany other symptoms affecting the body including:Abdominal pain or cramping.
  • Balance problems, difficulty walking, and falls.
  • Dizziness or vertigo.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as weakness, numbness or tingling, vision problems, unsteady walk, fatigue, and depression.
  • Weakness or loss of strength.
  • Changes in the mood, personality, or behavior.
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment.
Diagnosis:If you find that you yawn more often than you normally do but you are not tired, you may be having a vasovagal reaction. If this is the case, it's best to see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may ask you questions related to your yawning and sleep habits. He will want to know how many times you yawn per hour on a daily basis, if the yawning changes throughout the day, or if there are certain times and places when your yawning is worse meaning do certain activities or medications trigger a more severe attack.If the doctor cannot conclude what, if any, physical symptoms could be causing the excessive yawning, they may want you to participate in a sleep study. Sleep studies measure blood oxygen levels, heart rate, rapid eye movement, muscle activity and brain waves in an attempt to diagnose whether your excessive yawning is due to a sleep disorder.Treatment:Since there are no definite answers about the various causes and reasons for yawning, there are no established treatments. Yawning is not in itself a thing to be concerned about. As said earlier, some medical authorities believe that yawning is caused by vasovagal reaction and disorders related to stress and sleeping habits. Treatment based on these beliefs should follow the underlying cause. If you have a history of heart attack, treating it will also be the remedy for your excessive yawning. How to Suppress a Yawn While treatment is a matter of medical and cultural opinion, suppressing a yawn is a matter of discipline. There are situations when yawning is inappropriate and suppressing it is the best course of action. Such situations include interviews, funerals, weddings, conference meetings, and medical consults. Yawning, as many would agree, is a sign of boredom. You do not want the priest or the interviewer questioning your intention and character, do you?Follow these steps to learn how to suppress a yawn so as not to send the wrong message at the wrong time:Hold your mouth tightly and clench your jaws. When you feel the yawn is coming, just maintain pressure at the back of your jaws. Swallow the yawn as it tries to escape.
  • Drink a glass of water when you feel the urge to yawn. This will cause the feeling to subside. Drinking plenty of fluids will also make you feel less tired. Dehydration is the primary cause of fatigue, which can lead to yawning.
  • Inhale deeply and try to hold your breath as long as you can, then breathe out. Make sure to expel all the air from your lungs. Yawning may be the result of too much carbon dioxide in the lungs.
  • Push firmly on your throat directly above the Adam's apple. For girls, it is directly above the Eve's orange. Push upwards to expel the air in your throat and hold back your yawn. You may want to exercise discretion here.
  • If you cannot suppress the yawn, you can cover your mouth with your hands to hide or minimize the yawning. Sometimes this act helps to suppress a full-blown yawn.
Treatment for excessive yawning typically depends on its cause. Doctors usually do not treat yawning itself, as it is usually a symptom of an underlying issue rather than a separate medical problem. For example, some of the health problems that may cause excessive yawning include encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, and heart disorders. Conditions that interfere with the proper intake or use of oxygen may contribute to excessive yawning as well. Additionally, a person may yawn more than normal as a side effect of certain types of medications.Before you can concern yourself with treating excessive yawning, you must first understand the difference between excessive yawning and yawning that is likely considered normal. If you have a day in which you yawn a good deal, this may not mean you are yawning excessively. A bit of extra yawning may happen to anyone from time to time. If, on the other hand, you are experiencing much more yawning than usual and it lasts for a significant amount of time, you may have reason to be more concerned and seek the advice of a doctor.NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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