Is Constant Yawning A Symptom Of Something Serious?
Constant yawning, or excessive yawning can result from a number of causes, some of which are still somewhat theoretical. The fact that a constant yawning condition is not all that well understood, should not be all that surprising, as the yawn itself is not totally understood.
We Yawn For Many Reasons - We yawn at different times and for different reasons, some of which we really don't understand. We might be sleepy, or tired, or just plain bored. In the morning, we wake up with a good stretch, usually accompanied by a yawn, and quite often we yawn when we see someone else do it. One occasion when we yawn seems to make some sense. If we are gaining or losing altitude fairly rapidly, either in a plane when the cabin pressure changes, or driving up a mountain pass in a car, we will at times clear our ears and balance the air pressure on our eardrums by yawning. Other times though, we simply yawn for no apparent reason at all
Yawning is generally good for us, or at least an occasional yawn does us no harm. Conventional wisdom has long been that we yawn because we're getting a little low on oxygen in our bloodstream and yawning is a quick way to replenish the supply. Contemporary research has more or less refuted this theory; in fact indications are that we bring in oxygen more efficiently through normal breathing than we can by yawning.
More Is Not Better - If yawning is good for us, it would seem that constant yawning would be even more so, under the theory that more is better. The problem with that is, while yawning is a natural reflex, constant yawning is not natural, and could be symptomatic of some disorder. Constant yawning, or excessive yawning, can be rather subjective terms, so most medical people consider the condition as being one of experiencing 1 to 4 yawns per minute over an extended period of time. If you're sleepy or bored, you can easily yawn once a minute for perhaps 4 or 5 minutes. That would not seem to be abnormal. If you continue for an hour or so, you are probably in the constant yawner category.
A Symptom OF Things Not Right - Constant yawning can be caused by one of several disorders which are already known. People suffering from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or encephalitis, will often experience bouts of constant yawning, as will one who has had a recent heart attack. Certain medications can also trigger the event. If you have a serious illness, and are on medication, the stress and anxiety associated with having the condition may in itself contribute to constant yawning. If there is a real danger in constant yawning, would be that you are suffering from one of the aforementioned disorders and are unaware of it, and the yawning is simply one symptom of what is wrong with you. The greatest concern in the medical field appears to be that constant yawning can signal the presence of heart disease or circulatory problems that need to be addressed.
As yawning is triggered by our nervous system, a part of us whose functions are not always well understood, there can be any number of reasons for yawning, excessively or not, which may not be particularly harmful. If you feel you are yawning more than seems normal, the prudent thing to do of course would be to see your doctor.
Treatment of constant yawning might be desirable if for no other reason than the condition could have a devastating effect on your social life, as people might tend to believe that you are bored with their presence. On the other hand, knowing that yawning is highly contagious, you could have fun at parties by instigating spontaneous group yawning sessions.