Non-stop blabbing or excessive talking does have its own risks after all. Scientists say an individual who talks without control could be doing a lot of harm to his brain and general well being.
A study conducted by the National Center for Neurogenic Communication Disorders and Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, The University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) has revealed that excessive talkativeness could lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of concentration, emotional instability, muscular tension, abnormal posture and other negative effects.
According to the researchers, normal people, breathe twice as much air when they speak. That reduces their brain carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) stores which makes the body, in the process of long conversations, more prone to mental and general health problems. Even 10-20 minutes of continuous speaking, according to the researchers resets the breathing centre to lower arterial and brain CO2 levels promoting hyperventilation, tissue hypoxia and chronic diseases
In the study entitled Influence of continuous speaking on ventilation, twenty healthy young men were studied during periods of quiet breathing and prolonged speaking using non-invasive methods to measure chest wall surface motions and expired gas composition. Results indicated that all subjects ventilated more during speaking than during quiet breathing, usually by augmenting both tidal volume and breathing frequency. Ventilation did not change across repeated speaking trials. Quiet breathing was altered from its usual behaviour following speaking, often for several minutes. Speaking- related increases in ventilation were found to be strongly correlated with lung volume expenditures per syllable. These findings, according to the researchers, have clinical implications for the respiratory care practitioner and the speech-language pathologist.
It shows that excessive talkativeness or talking too much produces devastating health effects and could promote any chronic disease: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many others, These, they conclude could be an addition to the negative effects of modern speaking skills which include mouth breathing (for inhalations) and thoracic breathing (using the upper chest). Both these factors further reduce oxygen delivery to body, cells.
According to the experts excessive talking may not be a disorder in itself but rather a symptom which manifests as a result of other disorders present in the patient. There are two major categories of disorders which cause a symptom resulting in excessive talking.
First are the disorders which force the brain to go into overdrive and cause excessive talking. Anxiety-related disorders are one type, encompassing diseases such as OCD and ADHD. In these cases, anxiety manifests itself in speaking. Asperger’s Syndrome is another disorder. Those with Asperger’s Syndrome often become absorbed in a subject and talk endlessly. Lastly, those with bipolar disorder may have periods of excessive talking.
Attention seekers are another type of individuals with a disorder causing excessive speaking. One common disorder is Histrionic Personality Disorder. Another is Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Both disorders cause an urge for attention so great that the individual cannot resist excessive talking.
In the study, the researchers measured changes in end-tidal or exhaled CO2 pressure (which is very close to arterial CO2 values). It was found that the initial endtidal CO2 dropped from 38 mm Hg to about 31 mm Hg (after 10 minutes of continuous speaking).
According to the experts, Carbon dioxide regulates many processes in the human body, such as dilation of arteries and arterioles, release of O2 in capillaries (the Bohr effect), repair of alveoli in lungs, dilation of bronchi and bronchioles, sleep control, control of blood sugar, relaxation of muscle cells, weight monitoring, stability of the nerve cells, regulation of pulse, blood pressure maintenance and many other biochemical processes.
Two effects directly influence the brain oxygen levels. First of all, CO2 is responsible for dilation of arteries and arterioles. Some medical articles claim that CO2 is the most potent known vasodilator. As a result, as it was proven by tens of medical studies, lowered blood CO2 levels lead to spasm in blood vessels causing diminished blood supply to all vital organs, the brain included.
Second, normal levels of CO2 in tissues is crucial for effective release of O2 in capillaries. It is called the Bohr effect or Bohr law. It states that reduced CO2 levels in tissues decrease oxygen release by red blood cells.
Furthermore, CO2 is a powerful sedative and calmative agent of the nerve cells, while hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency) causes over-excited states of the nerve cells leading to “spontaneous and asynchronous firing of neurons”, as one neurological study revealed.
Therefore, it is normal that long speeches, conversations and excessive talkativeness often lead to light-headedness, loss of concentration, emotional instability, cold feet and hands, muscular tension, abnormal posture and other negative effects due to low O2 and CO2 levels in the brain. Deliberate deep breathing or hyperventilation causes the same effects, the researchers concluded.