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Provent: A New Option for Sleep Apnea

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Erik Snyder/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An estimated 18 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation.  But now, they have a new treatment option: a device called Provent.

Provent is a small patch that fits over the nose with two small plugs in each nostril.  During inhalation, a valve opens, allowing air to flow in freely.  During exhalation, the valve closes.  Air is directed out through two small channels, increasing the pressure in the airway and helping to keep it open.

Provent is a welcome rival to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a machine with a cumbersome mask that pumps air through a patient’s nostrils, which has long been the gold standard for treating sleep apnea.  More than half of patients who try using CPAP stop using it.

But Provent has its drawbacks, too.  At $2 per night, it’s expensive, not covered by insurance and it only works in about half the people who try it.

“The main complaint has been the inability to tolerate having the plugs in their nose,” said Dr. Nanci Yuan, medical director of the pediatric sleep center at Stanford University.  “They complain of feeling like they are suffocating as they are unable to generate enough air pressure or movement.”

Yuan added that patients with nasal congestion have found Provent to be useful.

“It may be effective, more so in patients with snoring alone and those with mild-moderate sleep apnea,” said Dr. Donald Greenblatt, director of the University of Rochester Sleep Disorders Center.  “It also may be useful for travel in patients using CPAP at home.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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