Trust TikTok to make viral the most bizarre internet trends. After vabbing — which recently became a hot topic on the video-sharing app, and one that involved dabbing vaginal fluid on the skin in order to attract potential romantic encounters and situations — another trend has come to the fore that involves taping the mouth shut while going to bed at night, so as to ensure sound sleep.
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But, experts have warned it is not a safe practice and must not be continued.
According to an Independent report published some days ago, the hashtag #mouthtaping has garnered 24 million views on the platform. While demonstrating it, users tape their lips shut at night so that they can promote nasal breathing during their sleep.
The outlet mentioned one user as claiming that the hack helped her sleep better and that breathing through the nose — as opposed to the mouth — can help “prevent bad breath and gum disease”, too.
According to sleepfoundation.org, mouth taping can be beneficial as a snoring treatment. It cited a study of people with mild obstructive sleep apnea, wearing a “porous patch over the mouth” that caused them to breathe through their nose, changing the “angle of the palate and the tongue” and leading to “significantly less snoring and fewer instances of lapsed breathing”.
But, sleepfoundation.org also mentioned some side effects, stating that mouth taping can cause sleep disruption due to “irritation from the tape” or even difficulty in breathing through the nose. It added that it can also cause anxiety in people who feel uncomfortable having their mouths taped shut.
Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, consultant interventional pulmonology and sleep medicine at Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad explained that generally if the nose is obstructed due to viral infection or allergic rhinitis, people tend to breathe through the mouth because there is an obstruction in the nasal cavity.
“In addition to that, in children, adenoid enlargement can obstruct nasal cavity, which can result in the kid breathing through their mouth at night,” he told indianexpress.com, adding that taping of the mouth “carries risks, especially among patients with breathing disorders”. “In such cases it may worsen underlying breathing problems like asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).”
Concurring with him, Dr Ayush Gupta, senior consultant, pulmonology, critical care and sleep medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj said human beings are naturally designed to breathe in through their nose, because it “humidifies and moisturizes the dry air, which we breathe in , and makes it suitable for our lungs”.
In case of nasal obstruction or enlarged tonsils, people begin to breathe through their mouth, and it can happen from childhood. “But it is not normal, and people need treatment so that this obstruction to their nose or nasal passage can be relieved and they can once again breathe normally, as opposed to breathing from their mouth,” Dr Gupta stated.
A ‘Cpap’ device for sleep apnea can help with the breathing. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)
He warned that such patients — who do not receive treatment on time — can develop obstructive sleep apnea, a disease with multiple side effects that impact the heart, lungs, along with increased risk of stroke, sudden deaths during sleep, personality changes, mood disorders , etc.
“When you tape your mouth, with which you otherwise breathe and your nose is blocked, it will lead to catastrophe. Your oxygen levels can fall significantly, and lead to acute cardiovascular events during sleep. Never ever do this,” the doctor implored.
He suggested using chin straps instead, while explaining the use of an airway device, which covers the nose of a patient and they breathe in by means of a positive air pressure that relieves obstruction. In case they are habitual mouth breathers, they can use chin straps to reduce air leak and to lock the jaw.
Dr Balasubramanian agreed and said identifying a reason for an obstructed nose and managing it appropriately with medications or surgical correction of enlarged adenoid — or appropriate management of obstructive sleep apnea — is the ideal solution, rather than mouth-taping in all cases.
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