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Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The basic premise of anti-snoring chin straps is that by holding the jaw closed the tongue is pulled upwards and forward, thereby providing a clearer breathing passage. Figure 1 shows a natural resting position of the tongue when the jaw is closed. Figure 2 shows a natural resting position of the tongue when the jaw is open. When the jaw is open, the tongue slides backward and downwards and thickens somewhat and there is less room at the back of the throat for the passage of air. In less extreme cases, narrowing of the breathing passage might result in vibrations of the throat or tongue as air passes by, thereby causing snoring. But in more extreme cases the tongue might actually come into contact with the back of the throat, as is shown in Figure 3, and block the passage of air, thereby producing obstructive sleep apnea.  Hence, snoring is often a sleep apnea symptom, or it may be an indicator that one may eventually come to suffer from sleep apnea.

        It should also be noted that snoring may be the result of vibrations in other portions of the breathing passage as well, such as in the sinuses. Furthermore, it should be noted that snoring or sleep apnea caused by a narrowing of the throat may not be caused by the tongue or tongue position. For instance, a narrowing of the breathing passage may be caused by the weight of neck fat producing a collapse of the throat passage when the muscles are relaxed during sleep. For cases such as that shown in Figure 2 where there is a narrowing or obstruction of the breathing passage due to open-mouth breathing, wearing an effective anti-snoring chin strap may lessen or completely cure snoring or be an effective sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms It should be noted that sleep apnea websites generally do not mention chin straps as a sleep apnea treatment. It      seems this is because clinical studies on the effectiveness of a chin straps as a sleep apnea treatment have provided mixed results.  This case report shows that a chin strap can be helpful for some people, while this clinical trial found the opposite. However, it is important to note that, to-date, clinical studies have only studied standard neoprene chin straps which, as pointed out above, are difficult to adjust so as to be both effective and comfortable.  And standard neoprene chin straps push the jaw inwards, which is the direction opposite to that utilized by sleep apnea oral appliances.
       As shown in Figure 4, an oral appliance has the appearance of a sports mouth guard.  Oral appliances can reduce snoring and are an accepted sleep apnea treatment for patients where, during open-mouth sleeping, the tongue causes a throat blockage. Oral appliances force the lower jaw slightly forwards so as to provide additional room in the breathing passage. However, some people find it uncomfortable to sleep with the jaw forced forwards, and long term use of this mode of treatment can lead to pain and possibly damage of the jaw joint. Furthermore, an oral appliance must be properly custom fitted. Including dentist visits as well as the actual device, an oral appliance may cost a few thousand dollars.