A New Cure for Sleep Apnea?
The world of ENT medical technology is forever expanding, and occasionally we tech-minded medical professionals even show flashes on ingenuity. Case in point: Provent, a new system to combat sleep apnea that does away with the giant CPAP mask so many of us love to hate.
Traditionally, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine has required, among other things, a tight seal, an electrical outlet, a patient sleeping partner, and a healthy dose of clautrophilia. Many who try the CPAP stop using it almost immediately, spooked by the size and noise, not to mention the deep welts that may linger on your face for several hours after waking.
Provent requires nothing more than a patch that hides two small plugs for your nostrils. There is no power supply, no plastic mask, and no enormous wheezing bedside apparatus. Instead, a set of valves in the device ingeniously let air in but do not let it out, thus creating a natural source of “backpressure” that just might be enough to keep your airways open at night. I say “just might” because Provent doesn’t work for everyone. From the NYT:
Last year, in a large study of 250 apnea sufferers published in the medical journal Sleep and subsidized by Ventus, researchers found that those who used Provent devices over a three-month period saw their apnea episodes fall sharply, compared with people who were given a sham, or placebo, device. A follow-up study tracked people over the course of a year and had similar results.
But not everyone finds that Provent alleviates their apnea. In interviews, sleep specialists said that a third or more of patients do not end up using it.
“It works like a champ in some people and doesn’t work on other people,” said Dr. Nancy Appelblatt, an ear, nose and throat surgeon in Sacramento who has prescribed it to about 100 patients. “All sleep apnea is not created equal.”
So is Provent worth your while? I would say maybe, especially for the millions of people who suffer with dangerous obstructive sleep apnea but cannot abide the thought of donning a full Darth Vader mask every night of their lives. Got a question about obstructive sleep apnea? Contact an experienced Los Angeles sinus doctor today.