Do Nasal Treatments Relieve Apnea Symptoms?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans. That represents a big market for product manufacturers who aim to target apneics using noninvasive nasal devices that are promoted as potential cures. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of science behind these claims; in fact, in certain instances, the science is against them.
Breathe Right Strips
Although the manufacturers of Breathe Right nasal strips claim their product can reduce snoring by improving nasal airflow, research suggests it provides little help to people who owe their snoring to sleep apnea. In conducting their study, researchers tried a pair of treatments on a group of subjects who were suffering from apnea: continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatments and Breathe Right nasal strips. After monitoring each participant, the study revealed that, while CPAP provided relief from snoring and improved overall sleep quality; the nasal dilator strips had about as much impact as placebo treatments.
While Breathe Right Strips aren't specifically promoted as a sleep apnea remedy, Provent is a disposable nasal device which is specifically marketed as an effective apnea treatment. According to the manufacturer, the product works by using the person's own respiration to create so-called Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP), which supposedly holds the airway open to promote a more natural airflow.
Currently, there aren't any studies which have conclusively proved whether Provent works or doesn't work; however, according to sleep dentist Dr. Donna Blair, any treatment that doesn't take both the nasal passages and lower airway into account is likely to fall short.
“One of the most important components to proper treatment of OSA is assuring that there is Nasal Patency (open nasal passages). I commonly collaborate with an ENT to make sure that the structures inside the nose called the “turbinates” are surgically reduced in size and any deviated septums are also corrected. It allows the pressure settings on the CPAP to be set lower or allows a patient to be treated effectively with an Oral Appliance in place of the CPAP.”
While there may not be much science behind the efficacy of sleep apnea nasal devices, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been proven to effectively treat sleep apnea as long as the devices are used properly. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Many patients abandon CPAP treatment due to unpleasant side-effects, such as annoying noises and pressure sores. According to Dr. Blair, while nasal devices tend to be too weak to effectively treat apnea; for many people, CPAP is just too strong.
“CPAP pressures through narrowed or blocked nasal passages are frequently so high that patients can't tolerate it, and in order to be effective, other nasal technologies are going to have to achieve similar pressures,” she said.
Researchers have linked sleep apnea to all sorts of troubling medical issues, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, atrial fibrillation, depression, dementia and more; so health experts strongly recommend that sufferers choose some type of proven treatment before their simple breathing problems affect their overall health and cut their lives short.
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