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Letter Re: A Low Tech Aids for Some Sleep Apnea Sufferers

Dear Editor:
I suffer sleep disruption and was prescribed apnea treatment. First a CPAP [1] then a BIPAP [2] machine. Neither of those were right for me, so my doctor put me on ProVent nose plugs. These are little disposable stickers with one-way valves, which seal up your nostrils; you can breathe in but are forced to breathe out through your mouth, so you don’t get throat blockage.

Not only did they work better for me, but I realized that since they don’t use electricity they’re great for grid-down situations. Score!

Their downsides are ongoing availability in a TEOTWAWKI [3] situation, dry throat (so I keep water by the bed) and they’re not covered by my insurance, so they’re very expensive. $60 per month for some stickers!

I discovered that I could re-use them if I washed my nose well (got rid of oils) and dried my nose before applying. I was able to get 2-4 nights per set. But then I wondered what else I could do. I tried taping my nostrils shut with Band-Aids, and it worked! Not as well — dry throat got slightly worse, and it’s not as comfortable — but I’m still sleeping well through the night.

I clean my whole nose with soap and dry it. Then I gently tape both nostrils shut with one Band-Aid, leaving just a small gap for a little bit of air to pass. I use real Band-Aids, which stick very well; not cheap knock-offs. I use a second Band-Aid across the top of the nose to hold the sides of the first Band-Aid, to keep it from falling off. Then I drink a big glass of water and off to bed.

I’m glad I started with ProVents just to get accustomed to mouth breathing. The starter kit was $20. I can imagine that going cold turkey to Band-Aids would have been too difficult, so I’m glad I started with ProVent. But now I don’t need them.

My next change will be to a high-quality swimmer’s nose plug. Speedo plugs get good reviews on Amazon, and they’re less than $10. I’ll get two of them, for two is one and one is none 🙂

Maybe your readers with apnea will consider asking their doctor about ProVents. They’re not for everyone; my doctor told me if you have congestion you’ll find them difficult to tolerate. On the other hand my Band-Aid solution is like having permanent congestion, so maybe they are still an option.

Thanks for what you do, and God bless! – V.C.D.