Sometimes it’s more serious than just fatigue.
Yawning is an involuntary reflex during which the mouth opens wide and a deep breath occurs. This is the most common physiological phenomenon that allows you to cool the brain, helps to concentrate, and signals the need for rest. Often a reflex also arises as a result of empathy or the so-called “chain reaction”: when we see a yawning or read a text about this phenomenon, we ourselves certainly want to yawn.
But the lack of oxygen, contrary to stereotypes, does not cause yawning. This was experimentally proved by scientists from the University of Maryland. They asked the experimental group for some time to breathe air with a high content of carbon dioxide and air enriched with oxygen. Neither the first nor the second had a significant effect on the appearance of yawns.
On average, a person makes from 7 to 23 yawns daily. However, if this number increases several times, it is worth considering: perhaps the body is trying to inform you about health problems. Life hackers figured out which symptom of yawning can be a disease.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
The most common cause of frequent yawning is chronic fatigue syndrome. It is not difficult to earn it, especially if you work overtime, sleep a little, eat junk food, and do not play sports.
Chronic fatigue is distinguished from the usual by a constant character: getting rid of it with the help of an eight-hour sleep or long rest will not work. It can haunt a person for several months or even years.
Chronic fatigue affects not only performance but also the psychological and emotional state. A person is under constant stress. Here lies the reason for the yawning. According to the hypothesis of Dr. Simon Thompson, it causes an increase in the blood level of the hormone cortisol, aka “stress hormone”.
Other symptoms that may indicate chronic fatigue:
- chest pain;
- rapid breathing;
- irregular and fast heartbeat;
- fainting condition;
- Obstructive Apnea Syndrome
Lack of sleep or its absence exhausts the body, and fatigue, in turn, causes yawning. However, sometimes it’s not easy to understand that there are problems with the quality of rest. For example, with obstructive sleep apnea. People suffering from this disease can go to bed on time, sleep for eight hours and still feel tired during the day.
Obstructive apnea syndrome manifests itself as an undesirable short-term respiratory failure during sleep. After the restoration of the airflow, the sleeper may wake up with a sensation of suffocation or just make loud snoring, take a deep breath and return to normal sleep. Such a person may not even suspect the existence of a problem. Although the disease itself is not uncommon: every fifth adult has a mild degree of apnea.
You can understand that there is a problem with sleep by the following symptoms:
- violation of concentration;
- dry mouth after waking up;
- slowing down reflexes and responses;
- persistent irritability;
- muscle weakness or pain.
In obese people, yawning can occur due to two reasons:
An unbalanced diet or a thyroid disorder. Because of them, the hormonal background changes, drowsiness, and fatigue increase.
Hypoventilation syndrome of the lungs, that is, difficulty breathing or the inability to take a deep breath. The reasons for its occurrence may be a slowdown of the brain or squeezing of the chest under the influence of excess weight. Due to hypoventilation syndrome, the amount of carbon dioxide increases, and the amount of oxygen decreases. Yawning in this case helps to regulate the flow of incoming air.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can figure out if you have obesity by calculating your body mass index. There is a simple formula for this: weight (in kilograms) must be divided by height (in meters), squared. Obesity is indicated by all values above 30.
During the depression, yawning can be caused both by an increase in the level of cortisol in the blood, and by the use of drugs. Antidepressants such as citalopram and fluoxetine increase the amount of the hormone serotonin. He, in turn, leads to fatigue.
Only a doctor can diagnose depression. You should contact him if you have been observing the following symptoms for a long time:
- the feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness;
- loss of interest in what is happening;
- involuntary manifestation of aggression;
- pain in the head or back;
- thoughts of death.
- Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder is also characterized by stressful conditions and increased levels of cortisol. In this case, a decrease in energy and problems with the work of the heart can provoke yawning. Moreover, the stronger the feeling of anxiety, the more often yawning appears.
Other signs of anxiety disorder:
- heart palpitations;
- sleep and nutritional disorders.
Important: the symptoms of anxiety disorder are not unique and should occur daily or every few days for at least six months.
- Heart Disease
In cases of impaired heart function, yawning can be caused by vagus nerve stimulation. It connects the brain to the heart and organs of the gastrointestinal tract. Yawning in this case occurs due to lowering blood pressure and slowing heart rate.
Other symptoms of heart dysfunction:
- chest pain:
- shallow breathing;
- pain in the upper body;
- gait disturbance;
Frequent yawning is typical behavior of a person who has just survived a stroke. According to doctors, this process helps to regulate the temperature of the body and brain, which are heated during an attack.
Yawning can intensify immediately before a stroke, so you should pay attention to the symptoms accompanying the attack:
- a haggard face, a smile on one side of the mouth;
- weakness and inability to raise a hand;
- slurred speech.
All these signs signal the need to urgently call an ambulance.
- Multiple sclerosis
Yawning in patients with multiple sclerosis is due to damage to the brain stem. This department regulates the work of the larynx, chewing and facial muscles. A change in the brain stem leads to the occurrence of involuntary reflexes, in particular yawning and chewing.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the protective sheath of nerve fibers. In people with this ailment, Multiple sclerosis is broken between the brain and the rest of the body, resulting in a variety of neurological symptoms, such as impaired urination, increased muscle tone, dizziness. Memory loss with multiple sclerosis is rare.
Multiple sclerosis is also accompanied by the following symptoms:
- deterioration in the quality of vision;
- numbness or tingling sensation in the body, face, or limbs;
- balance problems.
- Brain tumor
Frequent yawning is a rare symptom of a brain tumor. In this case, the reflex is manifested due to severe fatigue.
Other symptoms of a brain tumor:
- behavioral changes, such as aggressiveness, apathy, anxiety;
- partial memory loss;
- visual impairment.
- Disorders of the liver
Hormonal imbalance and the resulting intense fatigue often cause yawning in people suffering from liver diseases.
Other symptoms of organ malfunction:
- loss of appetite;
- dark urine;
- yellow eyes and skin;
- confused consciousness;
- swelling of the arms or legs.
Less commonly, yawning is manifested as a symptom of epilepsy. In this case, this is a reaction of the body to the tension of the temporal lobes of the brain. Spasm in them occurs during or after seizures.
Other symptoms of epilepsy:
- feeling of fear and anxiety;
- temporary confusion;
- uncontrolled twitching of arms and legs;
- loss of awareness.
Sometimes yawning occurs as a side effect of the use of certain medications. It can be caused by:
- Antihistamines: they suppress the nervous system, thereby causing drowsiness and yawning.
- Some painkillers. Yawning, as a result of drowsiness, can be caused by opiate analgesics, such as buprenorphine, nalbuphine, codeine.
- Medicines to lower blood pressure. They cause drowsiness due to a slowdown in heart rate.
Yawning is a normal phenomenon that signals fatigue or overload of the body. However, if you notice that you have recently begun to yawn more often than usual, you need to consult a doctor.
Seek medical attention immediately if, in addition to yawning, you also have other symptoms of serious illness.