Eyes Water When I Yawn
When we’re young, yawning is cute — even irresistible. We can’t help ourselves; our brains release endorphins as part of the sleep-wake cycle, which triggers our mouths to open wide enough for us to let out that big ol’ yawn. As we age, though, this seemingly innocent habit turns into something more complicated. Our eyes may well water at times during the day, even if we don’t consciously realize it.
Our eyes are sensitive organs that require constant lubrication in order to work properly. Tears provide one way for our bodies to keep them moist. The outer layer of each eye has tiny glands called lacrimal glands that produce tears. These tears coat the eye’s surface so they have no friction against the eyelids. They also prevent foreign particles from sticking to the eye.
Tears come in two varieties: reflex and produced. Reflex tears occur naturally when we experience certain types of stimuli, such as bright light, wind blowing across the face, or even just thinking about something sad. Produced tears happen when we want to do things like eat, drink, read, watch TV or meet someone new. However, many people unknowingly yaw without noticing their eyes watering. A person who experiences frequent involuntary crying may be suffering from an emotional disorder known as psychogenic polydipsia (also known as “yawning disease” or “watering eyes syndrome”). This condition occurs when excessive fluid builds up under the lower eyelid, making it impossible for the eyelid to close. In some cases, patients will be forced to wear bandages over their eyes in order to relieve the pressure caused by the build-up of fluid.
In most healthy individuals, however, the eyes should not water excessively while yawning. Your eyes should appear clear rather than puffy and red, which would indicate there was too much moisture present. But why does this happen? Well, it’s easy to blame our genes for this one. People with family members who suffer from dry eye problems are four times more likely to develop it themselves. And genetics play a role in how often we’ll experience involuntary tearing. One study found that children whose parents had been diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome were 11 times more likely to develop the same problem.
But what happens if your eyes water every time you yawn? It might be worth considering lifestyle changes before assuming you can never stop yourself from doing it. Read on to learn more.
Blame Those Genes!
While genetic predisposition plays a large role in whether or not you’ll experience excessive tearing when you yawn, environmental factors can still influence your frequency of involuntary blinks. For example, you may find that you blink more frequently when you’re tired, stressed, hungry or dehydrated. You may also notice that blinking tends to increase around three hours after eating. This is because food stimulates saliva production, which causes the mouth to shut tightly, thus preventing air from getting between the teeth and gums. Other symptoms associated with dry mouth include coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties.
If you’ve noticed your eyes water more often when you yawn, it’s possible you suffer from a medical condition known as xerophthalmia. Xerophthalmia affects the quality of the tears that bathe your eyes. There are several different forms, but generally it’s linked to disorders affecting the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis.
One type of xerophthalmia is Sjögren’s Syndrome, which affects nearly 5 million Americans. This autoimmune disorder primarily targets the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle pain, painful joints, feeling thirsty, difficulty swallowing and frequent infections. Another form of xerophthalmia is Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which affects 1 percent of people who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. This occurs when these medications cause damage to the skin and mucous membranes in the lining of the nose, throat and lungs. Patients may experience blurred vision, burning sensation, stinging eyes, irritated nose and throat, nausea, diarrhea, rash, severe itching and hives.
If you think you may suffer from xerophthalmia, contact your doctor immediately. He or she may prescribe artificial tears or special medication to combat the problem.
Now that you know why you sometimes see your eyes watering when you yawn, go ahead and give it a shot. Just make sure you don’t start blaming yourself later if you wake up one morning and discover it doesn’t feel right anymore.
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