New sleep apnea treatment: right under your nose

FRESNO, Calif.

Joyce Nemoga is up and at 'em, starting her day with a brisk walk and a little gardening. But Joyce didn't always have this much energy.

"I would wake up groggy," Joyce Nemoga told Action News. "It would take me an hour or something to wake up and kind of get going."

And she wasn't the only one suffering.

"My husband started complaining that I was snoring, and I was waking him up," Joyce said.

Doctors diagnosed Joyce with sleep apnea. Like most patients, Joyce was told to wear a C-pap mask to bed every night. The problem was it was bulky, uncomfortable, and just plain inconvenient.

"I tried, I honestly tried," Joyce said. "I couldn't really handle it. It's too much."

She isn't alone; more than half of all patients stop C-pap treatment because they find it cumbersome. This can put them at risk for several dangerous diseases.

Dr. Amit Patel had a different option for Joyce, called Provent Sleep Apnea therapy. It attaches right over the patient's nostrils.

"This device takes advantage of the fact that 92 percent or more of people automatically breathe through their nose when they fall asleep," Amit V. Patel, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, explained.

In sleep apnea, muscles in the throat relax and cause the airway to collapse. As a result, patients can stop breathing periodically. With the Provent device, valves inside open during inhalation and close when the patient exhales. This increases the pressure and may help keep the airway open.

"When they breathe in, there's no resistance. When they breathe out, there forms a resistance," Dr. Patel said.

Study results show 72 percent of patients had more than a 50 percent reduction in AHI, which is the number of times per hour they stopped breathing at night. Snoring was reduced by 65 percent, and more than 88 percent of patients reported wearing the device all night.

There is no mask, tubes or machines, just two small adhesives that Joyce puts on each night. She says it's made a huge difference.

"I wake up better. I'm more awake. I get up earlier now," Joyce said.

And she can enjoy more time with her husband during the day and at night.

"We don't have to worry about sleeping in separate rooms! We could sleep together for the rest of our lives!" Joyce said.

The Provent device is covered by some insurance. It costs about 60 dollars a month. The C-pap machine is covered by most insurance companies. The most common side effects reported by Provent users are a sense of nasal congestion or nasal discomfort.

Dr. Amit V. Patel
(703) 521-6662

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