A chin plaster that monitors facial movements during sleep has been developed to detect sleep apnoea — a snoring condition that raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sensors in the plaster detect jaw movement changes during sleep. Patients and doctors can spot symptoms virtually instantly by using the wireless data transmission.

Sleep apnoea is a condition in which the soft and muscle tissue of the throat and muscles relax during sleep and cause a blockage of up to 10 seconds. It affects approximately two million Britons.

Air is then forced through the narrowed throat, causing the characteristic ‘rasping’ sound snorers make.

Nearly 1,000 sleep apnoea patients are using the plaster in a clinical trial at 14 French hospitals and medical centres. A stock image is pictured above [File photo]

A clinical trial of the plaster is underway at fourteen French hospitals. Nearly 1000 patients suffering from sleep apnoea are being treated with it. The stock image can be viewed above. [File photo]

When oxygen is low, the brain wakes up and opens the airways to allow normal breathing. Obesity is a major risk factor — excess weight around the neck puts added pressure on the airways during sleep. Because alcohol acts as an agent of muscle relaxation, it can make the situation worse.

Sleep apnoea, if left untreated can lead to stroke or heart attacks. Blood pressure rises every time there is a cut in oxygen intake.

Drooling can lead to sleep disturbances, which makes it 12 times more common for sufferers to cause an accident than others who don’t have sleep apnoea.

The continuous positive pressure treatment is recommended for patients who are trying to lose weight. To keep your airway open, you will need to wear a mask that covers your face every night. It is attached to an air pump and connected to a pump. But spotting sleep apnoea in the first place can be difficult, especially in those who don’t have a partner to alert them to their snoring.

Temporary symptoms can occur and others, such as daytime tiredness, are wrongly attributed to lifestyle or stress.

Currently, diagnosis involves overnight monitoring of brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing in a high-tech sleep laboratory, costing up to £1,000 per patient — NHS waiting times can be up to six months.

The £50 chin plaster, made by Belgian tech firm Sunrise, is a disposable, figure-of-eight shaped device. Sleep apnoea is a condition in which the brain contracts the muscles that make up the upper respiratory tract to restore air flow. This causes tiny movements to the jawbone.

This plaster automatically records these movements and downloads them to the app.

A clinical trial of the plaster is underway at fourteen French hospitals and medical centers. Nearly 1000 patients suffering from sleep apnoea are being treated with it.

Three-months of data will be used to compare the results with normal lab tests in similar groups. Jaydip Ray (an ear, nose, and throat surgeon at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) said that high-tech plasters could be used to help thousands more patients with sleep issues at home than expensive labs.

‘This simple device could mean we can test large populations for sleep apnoea,’ he said.

Combining two drugs that are already in use more than half the time will lessen breathing problems caused by sleep apnoea.

San Luca Hospital, Milan, found that oxybutynin and reboxetine (an antidepressant) reduced the number of airway obstructions from 49 per night on average to 18.

They’re thought to work by helping the muscles that contract soft tissue in the airway, stopping them collapsing, reported the journal Chest.

Continue to eat more 

Blackcurrants — for your heart. The journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension reports that older adults who had taken a supplement with blackcurrants reduced blood pressure and artery stiffness. Anthocyanins, which protect cells, are abundant in the fruit. 

Older adults who took a blackcurrant extract supplement had reduced artery stiffness and blood pressure, reports the journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension

The journal Clinical and Experimental Hypertension reports that older adults who used a blackcurrant extract supplement to lower blood pressure and stiffness in their arteries.

Take an olive oil tablet to alleviate the pain of facial nerve irritation

Trigeminal neuralgia can be relieved by olive oil.

It is often described as an electrical shock in the jaw. However, the cause of the condition is unknown. But it is thought that compression of the trigeminal nerve — the main nerve responsible for sensation in the face — plays a part.

When the sheath protecting the nerve becomes damaged due to pressure from an arterial or vein, this can cause the attack. An attack can last up to 2 minutes or take a few seconds.

In animal experiments, pain relief pills that contain concentrated olive oil were found to be effective in relieving the symptoms of chronic illness.

U.S. physicians from the University of Florida now offer it to 70 patients.

Swab testing could reduce the risk of infection in newborns 

New testing is being done to determine if early testing can reduce the chance of developing a serious infection in the newborns.

Group B Strep bacteria (GBS), which can be fatal to infants and cause death in babies, is found in one in four pregnancies.

Current preventative measures include checking for potential risk factors such as past GBS infections or urinary tract infections.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham are now investigating whether specialist swab tests can identify infected women so that they receive antibiotics prior to giving birth. This will prevent the spread of the infection.

Around 320,000 women are expected to be tested at various times during pregnancy (either 35-37 week or after they give birth).

The gut bugs are what determine the effectiveness of your drug treatment

Researchers from Cambridge claim that common drugs can be made less effective by bacteria found in our stomachs.

It exposed 15 drugs including montelukast (an antidepressant) and duloxetine (an asthma medication). Some of the bacteria ‘trapped’ the drugs, stopping them being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers said doctors may in future need to consider how each patient’s gut microbiome might interact with drugs before prescribing them.

Bipolar disorder sufferers may benefit from taking one aspirin per day. Scientists at the Danish Capital Region Mental Health Services are studying the painkiller’s effect on 250 people with the mental health condition in addition to their existing treatment. It’s thought aspirin may reduce brain inflammation. 

You may be able to use tiny needles to treat problem skin

A device that pokes at the skin using tiny needles could help with acne.

That’s the thinking behind a new ‘pen’, which is used to apply 1.5mm-long needles to affected skin.

U.S. inventors at Crown Laboratories believe tiny wounds created by the sterile needles will trigger the body’s natural repair process, causing the production of collagen, a protein in skin involved in healing.

It is believed this will help treat acne as well as repair the ‘wounds’. On the basis of more collagen making skin smoother and firmer, this technology can be used to reduce wrinkles. Although antibiotics are available for acne, they can be slow to show results.

Simple things

Making small changes in your daily routine will improve your health. Stay active at your desk this week

Sitting for long periods is linked with a higher risk of obesity and heart problems —but moving away from your desk for even just two minutes every half hour could reduce your sitting time by around an hour a day, according to 2017 research in the Cochrane Library.

Researchers from Finland, Belgium, and Britain reviewed 34 studies about ways to decrease sitting in traditionally sedentary work environments.

The best solution was to use standing desks. This can help reduce heart damage early on.

A study conducted by The Medical College of Wisconsin (U.S.) found that 15 overweight workers used a standing desk after 24 weeks. They also reported significantly less insulin resistance and improved cholesterol.

This is how you can do it

Avoid buying ‘diabetic foods’ — these contain at least as many calories as ordinary varieties. It’s much better to cut back on sugar and total consumption than to opt for speciality foods, suggests Roy Taylor, a professor of medicine and metabolism at Newcastle University, in his book Your Simple Guide To Reversing Type 2 Diabetes (Short Books). 

The tools of trade

How doctors use instruments. This week: Peak flowmeter

To assess the function of your lungs, you will need a peak flow meter.

The patient blows as hard as possible into the tube-shaped device with measurements marked up one side — and a marker that flies up the scale as they exhale.

This is your peak expiratory volume. It’s measured in litres per minute.

The test should be repeated three times in a row — the highest measurement is taken as accurate. The factors that determine a healthy score include age.

This was created by Dr Martin Wright in 1956. Wright, a Medical Research Council Pathologist, needed an easy way to determine lung function. The method can be used all over the world.