A perfectly fitting PAP mask is a beautiful thing. Sometimes, though, even a perfectly fitting mask and machine are not sufficient for perfect treatment. For those with a nasal mask, for example, breathing out of the mouth may hinder treatment. For this reason, a chinstrap has been created to keep the mouth shut during the night. And if you are thinking, “the last thing I want or need is another piece of equipment,” the next featured study is a must-read.
This research team set out to answer a simple question: does the use of a chinstrap in addition to PAP treatment improve PAP treatment use? And if so, does this improved usage cause a decrease in sleep apnea occurrence and sleepiness?
In order to test this, non-chinstrap users (31 of them) who were on PAP treatment were tested for PAP use through the electronic compliance information card within their machine. Records regarding leak from the PAP device, usage time, and residual hypopneas and apneas (the ones remaining even when on treatment) were obtained from these information cards. Questionnaires were also administered regarding sleepiness levels. This data was obtained again after the subjects were given the chinstrap to use.
Results showed that of those who used the chinstrap, subjects had overall 10.9% greater PAP device usage and slept for 59 minutes longer compared to when they did not wear the chinstrap! In addition, there were 19 minutes less of leak per night than when a chinstrap was not used. As a result, residual apneas and hypopneas were reduced, and sleepiness was also reduced1!
This study indicates that the simple addition of a chinstrap improves PAP usage, leading to reduced apneas/hypopneas and reduced sleepiness. This study makes a great case for adding a chinstrap to a routine of anyone who is not satisfied with their mask or still feels sleepy during the day. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate a chinstrap. However, one of the most commonly cited reasons for non-use, as indicated by this study, is lack of knowledge about the purpose of a chinstrap. Now that you have read this, you have no excuse for not trying it out if you still suffer from residual apneas or sleepiness!
1. Online pre-publication: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Effect of Addition of Chin Strap on PAP Compliance, Nightly Duration of Use, and Other Factors