Veterans may have new way to fight sleep apnea

Almost 10 years have passed since I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I found out that news — something I had suspected for some time — at a joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Sleep Lab at the Olin E. Teague VA Hospital in Temple, Texas. I was prescribed a CPAP, for Continued Positive Airway Pressure, machine.

CPAPs, especially older ones, can be kind of a pain in the bumski. But for the various maladies the machines can help prevent they are pretty much worth the trouble. VA patients may now have the opportunity for a simpler, much lighter and less complicated device to treat sleep apnea.

A company called Ventus medical has entered into a multi-year contract with the VA for the use of Provent® Sleep Apnea Therapy, a small, non-invasive nasal device for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. More than 4 million veterans suffer from sleep apnea. A 61 percent increase in diagnoses have been seen for veterans between 2008-2010 due to respiratory-causing problems from dust in Iraq and Afghanistan. A press release from the company explains how this treatment works:

 “Provent Therapy utilizes nasal expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) to keep a patient’s airway open during. It incorporates a novel MicroValve design that is placed over the nostrils and secured with hypoallergenic adhesive. During inhalation, the valve opens allowing nearly unobstructed airflow. During exhalation, the valve closes, limiting airflow through small openings, which increases expiratory pressure and keeps the airway open, preventing disruption in breathing.”

The CPAP has been with me for most of the time since I was diagnosed. I say most of the time, I have never taken it camping with me because the times I went camping I didn’t have the means to plug my machine into my truck for electricity. I have the means now but haven’t been camping in awhile. Taking the machine along, especially using air travel, can also be a hassle. The machine isn’t all that rugged so it is carry-on luggage. In the first days of the TSA, traveling with a CPAP wasn’t all that difficult. One might just place the machine inside its bag on the conveyer belt. Then the TSA began requiring the machines be taken out and put on top of the carrying bag. Now they security folks want you to take the guts of the machine off of the humidifier so it can be X-rayed.

Breathing from a machine which may or may not make a little noise, not to mention wearing a nasal or full nasal-mouth mask at night, also isn’t the sexiest look for the bedroom. That is unless, perhaps, you are pretending to be a fighter pilot. I’m just guessing here. I have no first-hand knowledge though.

The Provent Therapy definitely has the promise of unburdening yourself with some 10-to-20 pounds of machine, wires and tubes. It might not be for everyone, however.

I was interested in Provent so I sent an e-mail last night to an address I got through the company’s Web site. My main concern is that often during the night my nasal passages are often stopped up for a great deal of time. Since the device fits under your nose, yes, that is it, I wondered if it would do its job on me. A company representative called me this afternoon. The nice lady said that because of the way the Provent Therapy works, it might not be effective for someone suffering from blocked nasal passages.

The representative suggested I ask my doctor about use of Provent Therapy and perhaps asking for some kind of medicine to dry up my nasal passages. The last thing I want right now are any more meds. Other than an occasional Benedryl, I haven’t used any type of allergy medicine since I left Central Texas and its hellish “cedar fever.” So I kind of doubt it is worth the trouble of asking my doctor for the device.

Provent Therapy might be worthwhile for other veterans though. I am not endorsing it, but if you want to check it out, read the Web information and ask your VA doc about. For more information about the product itself, you can call toll-free 1-888-757-9355.