I see many patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing stops during sleep because soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses and closes the airway. These patients often snore loudly and wake up dozens-even hundreds-of times per night. One of the most common treatments for sleep apnea is a therapy called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), in which an air pump blows air into a hose connected to a mask worn on the face. The air pressure created by CPAP keeps the airway open.

Although CPAP can be very effective, the mask can feel cumbersome and the machine can be noisy, so many patients stop using it. Now there is a new FDA-approved treatment called Provent that features a less cumbersome way to keep the airway open. Many of my patients have switched from CPAP to Provent and report that it is more comfortable. Here's why Provent is worth trying for this condition…

How it works: Patients place a small, disposable adhesive patch over the opening of each nostril. Each patch contains a small valve. When you inhale, the valves open, allowing you to breathe freely. During exhalation, the valves partially close, increasing air pressure in the nasal passages, which keeps the tissue pushed away so that breathing is easier.

In a study conducted by the makers of Provent and other researchers and published in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 34 study participants used Provent all night on 94% of nights during a month. While Provent was not tested head-to-head against CPAP, if it is used consistently, it will have a greater impact on sleep apnea than CPAP, which is used inconsistently by patients.

My advice: If you have sleep apnea, try Provent, especially if you do not use your CPAP regularly. Available by prescription only and covered by some insurance, Provent costs $50 for a 30-night supply. CPAP machines cost between $200 and $800. Side effects of Provent include mouth-breathing-related nasal, sinus or middle-ear discomfort. People with severe respiratory disorders, heart failure or very low blood pressure should not use Provent. For details about Provent, call 888-757-9355 or visit www.proventtherapy.com.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in