Chin Strap for Sleep Apnea Sleep apnea is a frustrating sleeping disorder; apart from making it challenging and uncomfortable to sleep, this debilitating illness also affects your lifestyle by increasing fatigue and reducing your ability to concentrate during the day.
Additionally, sleep apnea left untreated can also lead to a slew detrimental health conditions. This why there are a variety of sleep apnea treatment options available. A relatively new and largely unknown yet effective treatment option for sleep apnea is using a Chin Strap. This article is a brief but detailed attempt at demystifying the Chin Strap as a reliable treatment device for sleep apnea treatment.
What is a Chin Strap?
It is essentially a flexible fabric sling typically made from neoprene. It is worn around the neck; the bottom part of this sling’ cups a user’s chin and holds it up while the top part rests on top of a user’s head.
Although the design slightly varies from one brand to another, the difference is not very significant. Most chin straps are typically made up of either 2 or 3 straps depending on what a user finds most comfortable. Some models even have a band on either side of the ears to ensure a comfortable fit and for added support. The primary function of a chin strap is to ensure the jaw closed during sleep.
Step by step guideline of how a chin strap works in relieving sleep apnea
- Simply put, a chin strap works by pushing a user’s chin up hence forcing you to breathe consistently through the nose. By keeping the mouth shut, this suitable device also ensures the airway is a little more open to ensure more air enters the lungs.
- When the jaw closed, it slightly pushed forward, and this comes in handy in reducing the severity of tissue collapse in the throat which is the leading cause of an obstructed airway.
- Since the closed jaw helps keep the airway open, these chin straps will not only assist in relieving mild to moderate sleep apnea but will also help alleviate snoring.
Although all this sounds pretty impressive, chin straps are neither suitable nor beneficial for everyone. This begs the question; who can benefit from using these innovative devices?
- Extremely beneficial for persons who snore with their mouths open – Sleeping with a wide open mouth causes further collapse of the soft tissues of the throat leading to an obstructed airway which causes snoring. By ensuring your jaw is closed the fall of throat tissues will be reduced substantially hence alleviating snoring. The chin strap is neither recommended nor useful to people who snore with mouths closed such a snorers who suffer from sinusitis.
- Very beneficial to individuals who suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea – These devices will only be helpful if a doctor has ascertained that the particular cause of the sleep apnea is the collapse of throat tissues.
- Sleep apnea patients already on CPAP treatment regimen will benefit massively from using a chin strap – It will help patients already on CPAP treatment by preventing leaks which are a common occurrence when using a nasal CPAP mask. Most sleep experts recommend complimenting CPAP treatment with the use of chin straps particularly for new users who still find the CPAP facial masks uncomfortable and intolerable.
Quick Tip; The Chin strap is not recommended for persons with severe obstructive sleep apnea or those suffering from types of sleep apnea where keeping the mouth closed can make breathing more difficult. Before attempting to use a chin strap; it is advisable to seek the advice of a doctor who will ascertain whether this treatment option can work.
Is there any scientific evidence that Chin Straps actually work?
A reliable and extensive study published on PMC (PubMed Central) clinically and scientifically established that chin straps are effective in eliminating snoring and treating obstructive sleep apnea. The article is titled “Treatment of Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome with a Chinstrap”, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556917/). According to this study, a chinstrap on its own is an effective treatment option for sleep apnea.
How to ensure your Chin Strap is comfortable and works efficiently?
Getting a well-fitting and comfortable sleep apnea chin strap can be quite an uphill task. When you purchase a new one or wash your old one, it is advisable to ensure it fits right. Here two tips that will come in handy;
- For guys, you don’t have to worry about hair getting caught. However, for women, this is a big problem which you can easily solve. Wrap a bit of cotton on the part of the strap that will be against the hair, attach by stitching.
- Try the chin strap to find a tightness you find tolerable and comfortable; keep in mind that it is not supposed to clump your mouth shut. It is just meant to hold your jaw comfortably at a closed resting position that can be maintained throughout the night. Adjust the straps in a different place to see what is what works best for you.
Getting the fit right is critical. Otherwise, the chin strap can slip during sleep leading to resumed snoring and continued obstructed breathing and also culminating in disrupted sleep.
What are some signs that the chin strap is not a suitable treatment option for you?
The primary indication that this device is not working for you is when your partner notices that you have started making choking sounds in your sleep while wearing it. This is a sign that your breathing is worsening and you are gasping for air. Whether you are using the chin strap to eliminate snoring or to relieve sleep apnea, you should immediately discontinue use and find another viable treatment option.
What are some side effects of using chin straps?
Using this suitable device has no side effects unless the user also suffers from nasal congestion. If your nose is also congested then keeping the mouth shut throughout the night can prevent sufficient supply of oxygen to your lungs which will cause serious health complications.
The Chin Strap is an affordable, safe and effective treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea and snore provided it used under the guidance of a doctor.