Double chin refers to the layer of subcutaneous fat around the neck that sags down. It is very common among obese people and the elderly. Double chin is generally considered as a cosmetic problem. However, they can also cause several serious health risks if left untreated.
Causes of Double Chin
A double chin occurs when a subcutaneous sheet of fat around your neck sags and causes a wrinkle.
Hereditary: Many suffer from a hereditary predisposition to double chin, some naturally retain too much water in the chin area, and others naturally store excess fat.
Age: As you age, you lose muscle, so the muscles in your chin weaken, and your skin grows looser (Medical News Today: What’s the Skinny on Fat Removal).
Excess Body Fat: Some people carry fat on the chin more easily than anywhere else, and obesity and double chins go hand in hand.
Underlying Health Risks
Sleep Apnea Syndrome
The first danger of a double chin is the fact that it can be associated with sleep apnea syndrome. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. It increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Hyoid Bone Degeneration
Aging is a major factor in contributing to double chin due to the weakening muscles and skin, thereby making the hyoid bone more apparent. Weak muscles can indeed lower the position of the hyoid bone, making it look like a double chin. This is very different from the double chin caused by obesity. A lowered position of the hyoid bone poses a health risk because the hyoid bone is responsible for the upward and downward motion during swallowing and eating. A lowered hyoid bone can cause this process to fail and may make the foods go into the windpipe instead. Foreign materials like food and liquid going to the windpipe or airways leading to the lungs can cause lung inflammation, which is medically called “Pulmonary Aspiration”. This is very dangerous and can cause choking as well as increase the risk of Pneumonia.