Mind and Body

A New Solution for Sleep Apnea

Like 18 million other Americans, Joyce Nemoga suffers from sleep apnea, a condition where the back of one’s airway collapses during sleep. The result is snoring or gasping for air during the night, and decreased stamina and energy during the day. After dealing unsuccessfully with the condition for more than six months, the 64-year-old free lancer at Columbia and Cornell University, from Middle Village, N.Y., has found relief from a medical device for sleep apnea called Provent.

Provent strips are disposable, nude-colored, one-way resister valves that adhere to both nostrils. Provent requires a prescription and has been FDA-approved for about two years, but is not commonly used by patients because it is still fairly new and sometimes not covered by insurance.

According to Dr. Amit Patel, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, anyone can be susceptible to sleep apnea. “Because it is an anatomical issue, a narrowing of the airway, the obvious patient types are people who are obese, people who have a lot of extra tissue, because that tissue can gain in the upper airway, causing a collapse. Patients who have a jaw that's a little bit pushed back, therefore compromising the space in the back of the airway, and patients potentially with neurological diseases are at risk because what keeps the back of the airway open are muscles, so when you sleep, everything relaxes.”

Previously, Nemoga used a C-Pap, or continuous positive airway pressure machine. This apparatus works in 90 percent of patients with sleep apnea, Dr. Patel told Fox News, but can be uncomfortable and cumbersome. The C-Pap consists of a face mask, which is connected to a hose and pumps air into the patients’ nose. Although the C-Pap treated Nemoga’s sleep apnea by not allowing her airway to close, it created multiple complications in her personal life.

“My family teased me about sounding like one of the Star Wars characters [Darth Vader],” she said.

And there was another conflict: The bulky machine was difficult for Nemoga, who loves to travel, to take on the road.

“I basically have my suitcase packed and if somebody needs a companion, I'm ready to go,” she said.

A C-Pap machine is considered a carry-on item on all airplanes, meaning she could only carry a purse and her C-Pap machine when traveling, rather than an overnight bag.
Provent strips are small enough to slip into a purse or pocket, making it much easier for Nemoga to travel.

Dr. Patel told FoxNews.com that Provent strips are a great alternative to a C-Pap machine.

“In those patients that come on to the Provent device, after having really tried C-Pap, often times the first reaction is very positive,” Patel said. “The results are fantastic because it is a new device which completely eliminates the machine, a hose, a tube, and is very freeing for a lot of patients.”

Certain patients with high risk factors accompanying their sleep apnea, like hypertension or cardiovascular issues, should be prescribed C-Pap initially but can, after remedying other medical factors, transfer to the Provent, according to Patel.

Nemoga said she is thrilled with the results of switching to Provent, calling it “miraculous, simple and fabulous.”