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Yawning - excessive

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 expected, even if drowsiness or weariness is present.

Alternative Names

Excessive yawning

Common Causes

  • Drowsiness or weariness
  • Disorders associated with excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Vasovagal reaction (stimulation of a nerve called the vagus nerve), caused by heart attack or aortic dissection
  • Brain problems such tumor , stroke , epilepsy , multiple sclerosis
  • Certain medicines (rare)
  • Problem with the body's temperature control (rare)

Home Care

Follow the treatment for the underlying cause.

Call your health care provider if

  • You experience unexplained and excessive yawning.
  • The yawning is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The health care provider will get your medical history and do a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

  • When did the excessive yawning begin?
  • How many times do you yawn per hour or day?
  • Is it worse in the morning, after lunch, or during exercise?
  • Is it worse in certain areas or certain rooms?
  • Does yawning interfere with normal activities?
  • Is the increased yawning related to the amount of sleep you get?
  • Is it related to use of medicines?
  • Is it related to activity level?
  • Is it related to boredom?
  • What helps it?
  • Does rest help?
  • Does breathing deeply help?
  • What other symptoms are present?
  • What medicines are you taking?

Tests that may be ordered include those to diagnose medical problems the health care provider thinks you may have.

Based on your evaluation and any tests, your health care provider will recommend treatment, if needed.

References

Chokroverty S, Avidan AY. Sleep and its disorders. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 68.

Gallup GG Jr. Excessive yawning and thermoregulation: two case histories of chronic, debilitating bouts of yawning. Sleep Breath. 2010;14:157-159.

Gutiérrez-Alvarez, AM. Do your patients suffer from excessive yawning? Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007;115(1):80-81.  

Rucker JC. Cranial neuropathies. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 70.  

LeWinter MM, Tischler MD. Pericardial diseases. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 75.

Updated: 1/22/2013

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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