Q: I have a question which might sound silly. I don't want to go to the
doctor about it because it sounds ridiculous. Have you ever known of anyone
yawning excessively? I have for the last couple weeks been yawning all
the time to get a deep breath and if I don't I feel like I'm not getting a good
deep breath while I am breathing. I don't feel sick and I don't have shortness
of breath. I have been still been exercising and feel fine but I am constantly
trying to get a deep breath like yawning. Is this something I should be
concerned about or not?
Dr. Donnica: Rule number one in medicine: The only "silly"
thing about a medical question is being too shy to ask! In this case, while
"excessive yawning" may sound silly, it is a potentially serious condition.
Usually, it means you are drowsy or not getting sufficient sleep. This can
also be a side effect of certain medications, most notably anti-depressants in
the SSRI class (e.g. Prozac).
Yawning itself is a normal response to fatigue or drowsiness, but excessive
yawning, especially as you described it as trying to get a deep breath, may
be caused by a vasovagal reaction and can even indicate an underlying heart
problem. It is time to call your doctor and get a check-up. In the
meantime, keep a log of how often you yawn per hour or per day, how much sleep
you get, what medications you may be taking (including cough/cold medications
and herbal preparations), what makes it better or worse, and whether it interferes
with any activities. I recommend stopping your exercise routine until
you have your check-up.
Created: 11/23/2002  - Donnica Moore, M.D.