Doctors are warning of the latest bogus TikTok health hack that involves taping your mouth before bed to lose weight.
Videos on TikTok touting the benefits of mouth scotch have amassed hundreds of thousands of views. One such benefit, according to mouth strip manufacturer Somnifix, is that forcing yourself to breathe through your nose only promotes fat loss.
Proponents also claim that it improves air circulation, relaxes the body, stops snoring and helps people stay asleep.
But Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a sleep specialist at the University of Southern California, said mouth scotch at worst could lead to obstructed breathing and choking, explaining that “if you have obstructive sleep apnea, yes, it can be very dangerous.”
Mouth recording is the latest TikTok trend to catch fire despite warnings from medical professionals.
Doctors recently warned of a similar viral trend called ‘vabbing’, which involves smearing vaginal fluid behind the ears and neck, which proponents say increases the chances of attracting men by spreading their pheromones .
Tik Tok users claim that mouth recording helped them stay asleep, reduced snoring and improved energy during waking hours, thanks to a constant supply of oxygen with nasal breathing
Some users also claim the practice can help promote weight loss, citing evidence that breathing warmly through the nose is essential for metabolizing fat particles in the body.
Dr. Dasgupta told CNBC: “There is limited evidence on the benefits of mouth tape and I would be very cautious – and even talk to your healthcare provider about it before trying it.”
Some mouthstrip users report having more energy in the hours after waking due to improved sleep quality.
Experts fear participating in the trend could harm the 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea – a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts again at night.
This can happen when the relaxation of a person’s throat muscles during sleep obstructs the airways or when the brain doesn’t properly send signals to the body to keep breathing.
Experts warn that obstructing the mouth could make sleep apnea symptoms worse.
Doctors also advise against sticking duct tape over your mouth if your nasal passages aren’t completely clear.
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the walls of a person’s throat relax and narrow during sleep, blocking the airway.
This interrupts normal breathing, with symptoms including loud snoring, noisy labored breathing, and repeated episodes when breathing is interrupted by gasping and sniffling.
About 22 million Americans have it.
During an episode, the lack of oxygen triggers the patient’s brain to bring them out of deep sleep so that their airways reopen.
These repeated interruptions of sleep can make the person very tired, who often does not know what the problem is.
The risks of OSA include:
- Being overweight – excess body fat increases soft tissue mass in the neck
- be a man
- Be 40 or older
- have a big neck
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Being postmenopausal – hormonal changes cause throat muscles to relax
Treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, if needed, and alcohol avoidance.
Additionally, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices prevent airway closure by providing a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask.
A mandibular advancement device (MAD) can also be used, which is like a gum guard that holds the jaw and tongue forward to increase space at the back of the throat.
Untreated, OSA increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes.
Dr Megan Acho, pulmonologist and sleep specialist at the University of Michigan Health, said: “It is important to note that if you have nasal congestion or a deviated nasal septum, you could potentially be restricting the flow of air if you stick your mouth together.
“This is one of the reasons we strongly recommend avoiding mouth tape in people with known nasal disease and in children.”
Mouth recording is not a new practice, but its popularity has exploded on TikTok where millions of users have posted their experiences.
Some videos have up to 500,000 likes and the “mouth tapping” tag has been viewed over 43 million times.
Although doctors may warn against duct tape in the mouth, there are real benefits.
An influencer who tapes her mouth shut before bed has brought up a range of mouth breathing issues such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, brain fog and sore throat.
Research also reveals that breathing through the nose helps the body function at its optimal level.
People who breathe through their mouths don’t take in enough oxygen. Without enough oxygen, our sleep quality and energy levels drop.
Nose breathing, which brings more oxygen into the body, also helps lower blood pressure.
It is a crucial part of meditation as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which dilates blood vessels and lowers heart rate, thereby reducing overall blood pressure.
The tape is also believed to help promote fat burning, a benefit of increased oxygen supply.
Oxygen helps break down fat molecules which are metabolized into energy to help the body function. The evidence is limited, however, as the studies have been relatively small.
In a study conducted in Korea in 2018, 38 people were asked to do different deep breathing exercises.
Some have been asked to perform diaphragmatic breathing – a process where a person slowly inhales and exhales to relax.
Those who did it through their nose, sometimes called abdominal breathing, had a higher resting metabolic rate than those who didn’t.
It can help a person lose weight, reduce fat, and reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
However, the evidence that the practice works is mostly anecdotal.
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