Yawning is a simple and generally harmless reflex. We do it unconsciously several, sometimes a dozen times a day. However, this inconspicuous activity is sometimes a symptom of the disease. Check what diseases frequent yawning may indicate.
Where does yawning come from? Scientists have several theories to explain this phenomenon. One of the oldest hypotheses indicates that it is caused by the need to provide the body with more oxygen. Some researchers, such as Dipak Kumar Dhar from India, indicate that the main “function” of yawning is to stimulate the body and increase brain activity. According to other scientists, yawning helps equalize the pressure in the inner ear and regulate body temperature (especially on warmer days). However, yawning can also be an alarm signal indicating the development of various diseases.
Yawning as a symptom of illness
When should yawning be alarming? It is worth paying attention to it if it appears too often during the day. What does this mean in practice? There is no set daily yawn limit. Much depends on our general psychophysical condition. Experts believe that excessive yawning occurs when it occurs more than three times in fifteen minutes and has no valid cause. These include sleep disorders, fatigue after a day of hard work or the use of certain groups of drugs (e.g. sedatives). Excessive yawning may indicate the development of diseases such as:
heart and circulatory system diseases – among others, due to blood flow disorders in the body (yawning as a need to oxygenate the body),
migraine – yawning and feeling tired may precede paroxysmal headaches,
heat stroke – frequent yawning helps “cool” the brain,
anxiety disorders – the yawning reflex usually increases in stressful situations (thanks to it, the brain can “cut off” from external stimuli for a few seconds),
bronchial asthma – the body “forces” yawning when it does not get enough oxygen due to impaired lung function,
esophageal-gastric reflux – the disease may sometimes cause symptoms typical of asthma.
How to deal with excessive yawning?
Attempts to suppress or stop yawning will be of little use. The body will try to carry out this reflex anyway. Various breathing and relaxation techniques can help reduce its frequency. However, their use will not solve the problem. It is very important to diagnose the cause of the observed symptoms. Of course, yawning itself does not indicate the presence of heart disease, asthma, reflux or other diseases mentioned above. It must also be accompanied by other symptoms. If you notice excessive yawning and other disturbing symptoms, contact your primary care doctor who will order appropriate tests or refer you to a specialist. The sooner you react, the better.