Excessive yawning. Is yawning contagious? and ways to prevent yawning

excessive yawning

Excessive Yawning

What is yawning?

Yawning is a natural involuntary physiological action shown when people are tired or bored.

Yawning involves opening the mouth widely, taking a long and deep breath, stretching of the limbs, brief interruption of breath followed by short expirations.

Who yawns?

Everybody yawns. Yawning is seen even in 15 weeks old fetus in mother’s womb. Animals too yawn. A normal person may yawn around 5 to 10 times a day. Each yawn may last up to 5 to 6 seconds.

What is Pandiculation?

The act of yawning and stretching the body together is called as pandiculation.

What are the causes (triggers) of yawning?

Yawning is an involuntary action shown when the person is bored, tired or exhausted.

Yawning occurs when the brain needs more oxygen or when there is an increase in brain temperature.

Fatigue and sleep deprivation (not enough sleep at night) can trigger yawning. Continuous reading, attending lecture or conference, and viewing boring film or TV program can trigger yawning.

Seeing somebody or some animal yawning also can trigger yawning. Looking at a picture or a video of a person yawning can trigger yawning.

What are the causes of excessive yawning?

Normally people yawn around 5 to 6 times a day.

If the yawning frequency increases and annoying it is called excessive yawning.

Excessive yawning can be due to some underlying diseases like epilepsy, migraine, stress, anxiety, Increased pressure inside the skull, brain tumors, head injury and multiple sclerosis. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea and snoring can trigger yawning.

Increased cortisol level in the body can also trigger excessive yawning (too much yawning).

Hypoglycemia (decreased blood sugar level) and hypothyroid (decreased thyroid hormone can also induce excessive yawning.

Vaso-vagal shock (sudden drop in blood pressure and pulse rate) can also induce excessive yawning.

Investigation to be done for excessive yawning

CT scan or MRI scan of brain, blood sugar level, Hemoglobin level, Thyroid function test, EEG, ECG and ABG (Arterial blood gas analysis) are to be done to ruleout diseases causing excessive yawning.

What are the uses of yawning?

Yawning increases the blood flow and oxygenation to the brain. Yawning improves the cerebrospinal fluid circulation.

Yawning reduces the temperature of the brain and keeps it cool. It reduces the intra cranial pressure (pressure inside the skull). Yawning increases mental function and alertness.

Yawning balances the pressure inside the ear and stretches the ear drums.

Is yawning contagious?

Yawning is contagious. When we see a person yawns, we involuntarily yawn. Animals do the same. It is a type of herd behavior, where we communicate to others about the change in the environment and tiredness and others yawn to show that they too agree.

Contagious yawning depends on the emotional bond between the persons.

The urge to yawn increases when we try to stop yawning.

Yawning shares the network of nerves of empathy at sub cortical level in the brain and involves the mirror neurons which are responsible for contagious yawning.

Immature babies and autistic children do not respond to contagious yawning as their brain has no ability to feel empathy. Contagious yawning is less seen in mentally retarded and schizophrenics.

How to stop or prevent yawning?

Keep the room temperature cool to prevent yawning. Keep cold pack or cold compress over forehead.  Drink cold drinks or eat some things cold to prevent yawning.

Breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.

Follow regular sleep schedule. Do daily exercise. Reduce stress. Avoid alcohol and sedatives to prevent yawning.

Excessive yawning may be due to some diseases as mentioned above. Proper investigation has to be done.  Consult your physician and treat the causative disease.

Why breast feeding is important?

Importance of breast feedingBreast Feeding

The best and most appropriate food for the new born baby is mother’s milk.

Why breast feeding is important?

Nutrition: Breast milk supplies all the nutrients necessary for the baby during the early days. Breast milk supplies the correct amount of nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, Vitamins, Calcium, minerals and electrolytes in the correct proportion to the baby. Easy to digest: Breast milk is the best food that is easily digested by the baby. Prevent infections: Breast milk is sterile (infection free) and the chance of infection is minimal and it protects the baby from infection by the antibodies of the mother present in the milk. Milk at correct temperature: Baby receives milk at the correct temperature. Mental growth: Breast milk fed children have higher IQ than bottle fed children. Breast milk fed children feels more confident and secure. Prevent Obesity: In breast milk fed children, the incidence of getting obesity are less. Prevent sudden infant death syndrome: Among children on breast feeding the sudden infant death syndrome (cot death) is less. Prevent infantile diarrhoea: Breast feeding prevents infant diarrhoea (inflammatory bowel disease), Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Breast milk also prevents constipation. Prevent diabetes: Diabetes is less in breast fed children than bottle fed children. Prevent Osteoporosis: In breast milk fed children the incidence of osteoporosis is less.

Advantages of breast feeding for the mothers

satisfy the maternal instinct. Promote involution of uterus. Sucking by the child at breast helps to shrink the uterus back to the pre pregnancy state and the contraction of the uterus reduce bleeding after delivery. Economical:  Breast milk comes free of cost, not necessary to boil or add sugar. Not necessary to prepare or sterilize the bottle for each feed. Prevent weight gain after delivery. Prevent breast cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. Breast feeding reduces stress and helps to prevent postpartum depression. Postpone the next pregnancy by suppressing ovulation (lactation amenorrhea).

Advantages for mother and baby

Produces a strong bond between the mother and infant. This bond may continue throughout their life.

What is colostrum?

The milk produced first (first few days) is called colostrum and it is full of nutrients and immunoglobulin’s which helps the baby to survive, develop and grow properly. Baby’s  immunity is strengthened by colostrum.

When to start breast feeding?

It is better to start breast feeding soon after delivery (within 1 hour).

For how long to continue breast feeding?

Breast feeding is to be continued for at least six months. It can be continued even after 1 year. Breast feeding should be weaned gradually (replacement of breast milk with other foods).

How often the baby should be fed?

New borne babies should be fed every 2 to 3 hours as the amount of milk ingested is less. Gradually the number of feeds can be reduced and fed according to the need of the baby.

Breast feeding week

August 1st week (1 to 7) every year is considered as breast feeding week to increase the awareness and importance of breast feeding.