What causes yawning excessively?

Yawning excessively is when the act of yawning occurs repeatedly or in close succession. Yawning is a normal response by the body to drowsiness or fatigue. Yawning excessively can occur when you are tired, weary or drowsy. Some medications, such as those used to treat depression, anxiety or allergies, can cause excessive yawning.

Yawning excessively may be related to a lack of sleep caused by a sleep disorder, a change in daily habits, or a change in work hours.

Yawning excessively may also occur in the presence of a heart defect or disease.

Physical causes of yawning excessively

Yawning excessively may be caused by physical disorders including:

  • 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)Seizure activity (may occur before or after)

Emotional or psychological causes of yawning excessively

Yawning excessively can also be caused by an emotional or psychological disturbance including:

Serious or life-threatening causes of yawning excessively

In some cases, yawning excessively may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
  • Seizure
  • Stroke

Questions for diagnosing the cause of yawning excessively

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care provider will ask you several questions related to your yawning excessively including:

  • When did you first notice that you were yawning excessively?
  • How often are you yawning?
  • Does your excessive yawning take place at the same time each day?
  • How much sleep are you getting each day?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as chest pain or rapid breathing?

What are the potential complications of yawning excessively?

Because yawning excessively can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care provider design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Absenteeism from work or school
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Inability to participate normally in activities
  • Poor quality of life
  • Progression of symptoms
  • Withdrawal or depression

References:

  1. Yawning - excessive. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003096.htm.
  2. Drowsiness. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003208.htm.
  3. Gupta S, Mittal S. Yawning and its physiological significance. Int J Applied Bas Med Res. 2013; 3:11-15.
INTRODUCTION

What is yawning excessively?

Yawning excessively is when the act of yawning occurs repeatedly or in close succession. When you yawn, your mouth opens and you take in a deep, long breath. Sometimes this is accompanied by a sigh. Yawning is a normal response by the body to drowsiness or fatigue. Yawning may also be triggered by observing someone else yawning.

Yawning excessively may mean taking in this deep br... Read more about yawning excessivelyintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with yawning excessively?

Yawning excessively may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Physical symptoms that may occur along with yawning excessively

Yawning excessively may accompany other symptoms affecting the body including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves