Mouth puffing phenomena of patients with obstructive sleep apnea when mouth-taped: device's efficacy confirmed with physical video observation

Sleep Breath. 2023 Mar;27(1):153-164. doi: 10.1007/s11325-022-02588-0. Epub 2022 Mar 11.


Purpose: This study aimed to design a device to monitor mouth puffing phenomena of patients with obstructive sleep apnea when mouth-taped and to employ video recording and computing algorithms to double-check and verify the efficacy of the device.

Methods: A mouth puffing detector (MPD) was developed, and a video camera was set to record the patients' mouth puffing phenomena in order to make ensure the data obtained from the device was appropriate and valid. Ten patients were recruited and had polysomnography. A program written in Python was used to investigate the efficacy of the program's algorithms and the relationship between variables in polysomnography (sleep stage, apnea-hypopnea index or AHI, oxygen-related variables) and mouth puffing signals (MPSs). The video recording was used to validate the program. Bland-Altman plot, correlations, independent sample t-test, and ANOVA were analyzed by SPSS 24.0.

Results: Patients were found to mouth puff when they sleep with their mouths taped. An MPD was able to detect the signals of mouth puffing. Mouth puffing signals were noted and categorized into four types of MPSs by our algorithms. MPSs were found to be significantly related to relative OSA indices. When all participants' data were divided into minutes, intermittent mouth puffing (IMP) was found to be significantly different from non-mouth puffing in AHI, oxygen desaturation index (ODI), and time of oxygen saturation under 90% (T90) (AHI: 0.75 vs. 0.31; ODI: 0.75 vs. 0.30; T90: 5.52 vs. 1.25; p < 0.001). Participants with severe OSA showed a higher IMP percentage compared to participants with mild to moderate OSA and the control group (severe: 38%, mild-to-moderate: 65%, control: 95%; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study established a simple way to detect mouth puffing phenomena when patients were mouth-taped during sleep, and the signals were classified into four types of MPSs. We propose that MPSs obtained from patients wearing the MPD can be used as a complement for clinicians to evaluate OSA.

Keywords: Breathing monitoring; Mouth breathing; Mouth puffing; OSA; Sleep disorder breathing.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Oxygen
  • Physical Examination
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / diagnosis


  • Oxygen