Respiratory Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

Straining to complete yawn, yawning all day, feel i just need a deep breath.

I have had this problem for a long time, but in the last year it has gotten worse and I cant stand it.  I regularly go through periods where I feel the need to yawn or get a deep breath and I just cant. I try and try over and over to yawn (causing me to get head aches), and finally accomplish it just to need  to yawn again. I am a sleepy person all the time,  but  the  straining  to yawn thing  makes me  crazy! I also have increasingly bad short term memory problems (at only 25), could this be connected to the yawning, and lack of oxygen to the  brain? could I  have asthma?  thank you so much for any help you can give me.
365 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi... I find this all very interesting.  I have been reading numerous entries in a variety of forums that all  relate to the same symptoms, but i haven't seen any plausible, concrete advice or evidence that anyone has any real knowledge about what could be causing this.  I, too, am suffering from this wierd "need to yawn, SOB, frustration with breathing regardless of the circumstance~rest, exercise, vertical, horizontal, etc."  I do notice it more at rest than I do when I'm up and around, although it did it on the treadmill at the gym yesterday.  I also notice it when I am eating??  It is REALLY frustrating and can be embarassing to be gasping for a deep breath when you are out and about with friends or whatever.  I do not believe that it is all related to stress.   I am a school teacher, and have not worked since May 31, so my stress level is lower now than it ever is.  Does anyone have any answers here?  It seems like an aweful lot of us are out here suffering the same symptoms in silence.  I do have to say that it is comforting (in a strange way!)  to know that there are others out there, though, and that I am not dying or anything (I hope!~)  Please comment if you know of anything that can be done about this besides asthma treatments and yoga.  Been there and done that.  thanks...
Did you figure anything out? I deal with this too, and it is worse when eating.
Has anyone had any resolution to this issue??
See this article about sighing. It could be the same or related mechanism:

Avatar universal
I am 58 years old and have started having the same weird "need to yawn" and most times can not.  It started several weeks ago after I had taken hydrocodone for 2 or 3 days.  I am scheduled to see a pulmonologist but is there any other type of doctor who may have more knowlege of the problem? Right now, all I can do is take xanax to keep me half way calm but it is affectivng my appetitie, relationships etc.  Somebody, please help!!!!
214277 tn?1211817033
i feel the say way. i feel like i need to yawn or sigh wth  a deep breath constantly. i mean we are talking every 5 minutes all day long for 6 months now. i have had heart tests... nothing but PACs, i had a breathing test and all normal so why do i still feel the need to contstantly take a deep breath or yawn to get it. is this happening cuz i am thinking about it too much?? how many deep breaths a day is normal... if anyone has any advise please let me know and good luck volsy i hope we can get an answer...  
Avatar universal
I too feel the same way...for about 2 months now and just about everyday, some days it's all day long. Some days are worse than others & on top of the breathing issues it makes me feel very lethargic, not to mention that my chest & throat start to hurt from all that deep breathing/yawning!  I am a little scared because I know this isn't normal breathing.  If anyone finds out anything I would be grateful to hear the diagnosis.  I can't believe how common this is...good luck to everyone!!!
Avatar universal
I think alot of what we are experianceing is the body releaseing adrenaline through the flight or fight response. A type of anxiety that causes the body to release high amounts of adrenaline causeing the muscles to be tense giving the sensation of squeezing or the inability to breath in deep. This in turn causes a more downward spiral effect causeing the symptoms to appear real, which sends us into it again and again mentally and our stresses manifest physically. You cant seperate the thought life from the physical body. Look what a sexual  thought does to physical parts of the body.  Ever notice the symptoms are less when your busy doing somthing or not thinking about it. Ask yourself how much in a day you are thinking about the yawning, which is a reaction to the obsession. A way we cope or recieve temprol comfort.  Your all not dieing which if folks were honest enough is the underlying fear that sends so much in motion. Fear of Death is the king of terrors and we as humans just dont like excepting it yet we are forced to think about it. Then the burden of false shame or embarassment which leaves people suffering in silence. Thats to much of a load to carry. Thank God for sites like this where we can be comforted. Sometimes knowing others understand and feel you is 90% of the cure to anxiety. I would say that what your all experianceing is a form of anxiety either real imagined or post traumatic in nature.
Avatar universal
It is NOT stess people!! Yes, it is stressful to not be able to breathe, but stress is NOT the cause! I have had this problem since I was a child (about 5 years old), and now I am 30 years old and 6 months pregnant. It is also NOT from the baby pushing into my lungs. I wasn't stressed out OR pregnant at 5 years old!! It scared me so badly that I went to my ob/gyn and she scheduled me with a pulmonologist and a cardiologist. My lung funtion is perfect--as though I work out all the time, which I don't because I can't breathe!! My oxygen levels were at 98% too which is great. My EKG was normal too. The problem does get worse when I ly down and when I eat. The cardiologist thinks it's acid reflux which can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness of breathe, etc; even without having heartburn which has not been a problem for me. I have been on Nexium for 5 days now, and I feel slightly better, but was up all last night because I couldn't breathe, then around 3:30am I was fine! I have an echocardiogram shceduled for this afternoon. I'm sure it will be fine too. I've also read that anemia or hypothyroidism can cause this. I'm not anemic and my thyroid levels are perfect at a TSH level of 1.8.
I'll keep you posted on the echo, and if I feel better in a few days on the Nexium. I'm praying for all of us who suffer!!
Avatar universal
I have a severe yawning problem, which has worsened now that I am 31. I sleep more than usual, when 7-8 hours of sleep would be enough, now I sleep 11-12 hours at night. I yawn all day long and I have noticed increased headaches and short term memory loss. I also have no energy to do anything. I used to be entergetic and always getting up and doing athletic things, and now it takes everything I've got just to go to the store. I am on Lexapro, which is an anti-depressant, and I know that taking such medications have side effects and one of them is excessive yawning. I just want answers and to get my life back on track and my energy level where it used to be. Good luck to all and hope to find the answer to our unusual yawning problem.
Avatar universal
I have been taking Nexium for about 2 weeks now...there has been about a 40% relief with my breathing symptoms. I never get heartburn anymore though, which is great. I didn't realize how upset my stomach was until I started the Nexium; but I'm pregnant, so I just expect to not feel very well. I know it takes 4-8 weeks for the Nexium to actually heal the damage, so I will still give it a shot. I just read on another forum that several people feel like they have something stuck in their throat--I do too, and they said it was acid reflux too...even without severe heartburn. Hopefully this is the answer. I would love for it to be! I have a hard time not eating late at night because I always need to eat due to the baby, so maybe my symptoms will take a little longer to subside. For those of you who can, try to see a Gastroenterologist and have some tests done, or at least talk to the doctor about trying Nexium. It may just be the answer. I still don't have my test results back from the echocardiogram done on my heart--they also took pictures of my throat, so maybe that will reveal something; I will keep you all informed!
Avatar universal
I've been on Nexium for acid reflux for over 3 weeks now and I can breathe SO MUCH BETTER!! All my lung function test and heart scans came back perfectly fine. I guess the reason I couldn't breathe was acid reflux. Even without heartburn, acid reflux can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and a feeling of not enough air in the lungs, which can make you feel like you need to yawn in order to get a good breath of air. I know sometimes the breathing difficulties come and go, so I am still a little bit weary that it may return even being on Nexium. But for now, I can breathe and I'm SO happy!!! Check into this!!!! You can do a search for "breathing difficulties + acid reflux" and you will find a lot of information on it. I understand this isn't the cause of everyone's breathing difficulties, but I bet it's a cause of many--it was for me! Too bad my lung doctor NEVER mentioned anything about that!
Avatar universal
So interesting! I'm so glad I found this thread because I too have been experiencing the same problem. I am 23 and a few weeks ago I went to the ER (2 different ER's actually in 2 days!) because I thought I was having a heart attack. A week or so before I went to the ER I woke up one morning with a pain in the upper left side of my back that felt sore or strained when I leaned or stretched a certain way and also felt a tightness and a dull ache when I inhaled deeply. That persisted and then about a week after I felt very short of breath and like I couldnt get a deep satifying breath in. It felt like instead of the air filling my lungs all the way, the air would go a little into my lungs and the rest would just sort of evaporate in my throat. I also noticed I was CONSTANTLY yawning, or trying to yawn. Once again, it was like my breath was just getting caught somewhere in my throat and wouldnt go all the way into my lungs. I was also dizzy, lightheaded, completely wiped out and weak. When I went to the ER they did bloodwork, an EKG, took chest xrays and gave me a full body catscan. They didnt see anything wrong with my heart, no collapsed lung, no pulmonary embolism. The doctor assumed it was axiety or stress and sent me home (same thing as the 2nd hospital I went to 2 days later who did their own tests)  Now about 3 weeks after my ER visits my symptoms have gone away for the most part however I still have the pain in my back and sometimes I get that same frequent urge to yawn, yet can't. What could be causing this?? Its so frustrating.
Avatar universal
I've been having the same problem. I always have a "Need to yawn" as you put it, and usually it just doesn't seem to have filled my lungs. I also suffer from a memory loss, and perhaps this may account for deprived levels of Co2 or oxygen to my brain, as someone mentioned. I also began to notice a sharp pain on the right side of my ribs, every time I inhale deeply. It is quite reasurring that I am not the only one with these symptoms. It is strange however, because I am only 17 and this has been happening for a number of years now (and I have been ignorant in believing it would go away) and people think I'm sleep deprived when I am yawning constantly at school, even though it can be a bore. I exercise, I am a long-distance runner, and I also get sharp heart pain as well, which the doctors have no explanation for. I don't know what causes this, but I am not the type that indulges in activities that would cause lung problems (ie. smoking etc) I shall be going to a doctor to see what they say, but looking at this thread, it does not seem like a solid and concrete cure, or even an investigation will continue on. For all the people that suffer this in silence, and no one has really paid close attention to what is causing this, it is quiet concerning.
Avatar universal
Yawning is a neural and muscular reflex mechanism that occurs from the brain stem. Is it possible that a virus could damage that mechanism? We've got so many new viruses from mutation and they've been know to affect every part of our body. Also, apparently yawning may be controlled by the hypothalamus, through neurotransmitters and hormones. Maybe it might be time to see a neurologist to see if you have any luck there..

Something interesting:
(Migraines)"Prior to the headache phase and at the very beginnings of the migraine attack, there is a drop in magnesium levels, which is believed to be a destabilizing factor causing the nerves in the brain to misfire17 (one theory behind types of visual aura). At the same time, increased dopamine activity is observed, which has been connected with such prodromal symptoms as mood change, yawning and drowsiness." (www.pamcurtis.com/What_is_Migraine-Pam_Curtis.doc) Pointing to the brain again.

There's another interesting article, especially paragraph 9:

"Excessive yawning is also associated with opiate withdrawal and the consumption of a variety of drugs that affect neurotransmitters, such as drugs prescribed for Parkinson's disease or depression.
How many of us have been on medication for depression?

Good Luck, I hope you all find a cure soon. :)
Avatar universal
I have for the last month been suffering from the above mentioned. I can obviously breathe right then all of sudden I try to take a deep breath and I cant. It almost feels like it starts to develop then it stops. That is also the case when I am trying to yawn. I wanna yawn then I cant and I keep trying until i am finally able to do so.

Whats even more frustrating is that I get the urges to yawn more now. And I am not even tired!  I have also started to notice that I am getting a little light headed also, but not everyday.

I went to an ER and the dr on duty told me I was suffering from an anxiety attack.  I am sorry an anxiety attack that last for 4days? I dont think so. I know what at anxiety attack feels like and clearly this is not it.  I have a Dr.s Appt set up for this tues and I am hopinghe can tell me what it is, or else i want a referral for a pulmonologist!

Its also really hard for me to go to sleep now cause of this. I wake up feeling like I cant breathe.
Avatar universal

Avatar universal
I've been experiencing this problem for the last few months. I can take deep breaths but it doesn't feel refreshing. This causes me to yawn to try and get the full lung/stomach breath. I've tried breathing exercises, yoga but it doesn't seem to help. I was very surprised to see so many people with the same problem.
This seems to be a symptom seems to be connected to a lot of problems right from acid reflux or GERD to anemia, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea and heart problem. But I don't have the other symptoms related to any of the above diseases.
I feel weird, coz some days it's worse than others and people around me have started noticing.  
Avatar universal
I didn't have any symptoms of acid reflux either--I just couldn't breathe. I was very hesitant to take Nexium that my cardiologist suggested because the breathing issue was my only symptom. It is working though. I know it could be other things too for you, but I'd check it out if I were you, if just to rule that out.
It really is embarrassing. One day I was at my desk (one of 3 in a front lobby) and I kept yawning and a customer in line for another desk kept making comments on me being tired. He wouldn't stop, every time I yawned and finally I just left my desk until I knew he was gone! Leave me alone people! ;p I'm trying to breathe! =) Good luck!
Avatar universal
I just developed this problem in the last month and a half. I have asthma. I feel like I'm drowning. I take Singulair, albuterol inhalers, AND albuterol solution in a nebulizer. The nebulizer helps a teeny tiny bit but not much and I have to do the whole treatment and it makes my heart feel like I've just ran a race. It more than doubles my heart rate and the beating is so HARD. I hate it. I feel hopeless. I'm going to make another Dr. Appointment and ask about the Nexium. Thanks.
p.s. I wonder if MY problem has anything to do with ragweed. I live in Mississippi and a neighbor told me it is high right now. I don't really know how to look that up on the internet but I AM allergic to ragweed. Comments would be appreciated.
Avatar universal
Also, I quit smoking a year and a half ago
Avatar universal
I have had this for the past 4 days.  It came on after I suffered from seasonal allergies on this past sunday.  By Sunday night, ,my chest was tight and I could not breath for about 2hrs.  I was better on Monday, but then I noticed I keep trying to get a full breath and now I cant stop yawning.  I went to the Pulmonologist Tuesday.  All breathing tests were normal.  I had an EKG and it was normal.
This is getting annoying and really bothering me.  I dont know what to do
Avatar universal
I'm new to this sight, but am grateful to have found it.  I have been suffering for three years now..miserable, can't stop yawning.  I'm miserable by days end from yawing all day...several times ever minute...and even after yawning..the relief is seconds long, cause another is required right behind it.  I have had every test from heart to lung to sleep apnea...tried many drugs, anxiety, depression, wakefulness....puzzled the doctors.  Thought maybe even this could be related to my implants, but unless all of you have had implants, I don't any longer think that is the cause (but I don't want to rule out anything...I just want it fixed).  I will be asking to try Nexium (thank  you pregnant and breathless), and will be practicing the stomach breathing (thank you Alapp1212)...

Anything that has caused anyone even temporary relief...please share...I now have an additional system of which my chest feels like an overinflated balloon.
Avatar universal
You are suffering from overbreathing, check you are diaphram breathing mouth closed will sleeping all breathing through nose at all times as you bomp grows theres less room for correct breathing. this over breathing causes spasums in all including uterus remember to give birth you must be fully dialated this a problem for hyperventlors check doc. slow down breathing increase CO2 in your blood and that of your unbourne
Avatar universal
your yawn is from low CO2 sensing in your brain, check bood gas, resting calm CO2 should be high, as a result the yawn is your brain sencor thinking you have high blood CO2 when you in fact have low CO2 this yawn and shy is overbreathing causing fatige mouth brething. check with GP
Avatar universal
Not only a question, but comments.  I have been suffering for 3 years of excessive yawning.  The yawning causes extreme discomfort by days end.  I have visited the doctor many times, had many tests done, gallons of blood drawn, cardiograms, pulmonary specialiests, sleep specialists, bone scans, been on many meds, depression, wakefulness, yadda...yadda..yadda....the doctor finds nothing, I feel stupid and leave embarrassed...but so uncomfortable that I don't want to go on like this.  Why can't they fix me.

I've read so many comments here and for the first time I don't feel alone...this in itself has helped me...for two days I feel my symptoms are slightly better...or maybe the upteenth drug I've been given to try has helped.  I am specific, non narcotic and non addictive...also I don't like drugs that make me sleepy...I have a full day ahead of me every day.

My concern here is...all I"ve ready is the same course of action, cardiogram, pulmonary specialist, sleep studies...then drugs....what about a doctor that thinks out of the box.  This isn't normal...it can't be normal...I want to feel alive and like I used to.  I recall the day it happed, Oct 17 2004...that's along long time.  What about a rare disease not identified on an xray that attacks our muscles, lungs?  What about the brain...I haven't heard many that physicians ruled out the brain....I don't feel stressed, I don't feel depressed...although this breathing is taking a toll on me...I'm a happy blessed individual that enjoys hiking, exercise, crocheting...readhing....many many interests...and even work...I don't dread work.

I am not going to rule out all I've read above and am highlighting everything I haven't tried that others says works for them....I'll discuss with my doctor...He'll phone in anything he's so puzzled and swears he'll write a journal when we figure it out.  

But it's not just the need to yawn 3 times every minute...it is the strain it is taking on my body.  My chest can hurt and fell tight (nothing wrong with the ticker we've already ruled that out.

I'm taking all these printouts to my doctor....there has to be one doctor that wants to take a stand....something is wrong.

I'll keep reading everything anyone posts...deperate
Avatar universal
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