Sleep is important to all of us, and modern Americans do not get enough sleep. Between work, social lives, and children’s activities, far too few of us get a solid eight hours per night.
That is true even before we consider sleeping disorders, including heavy snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These disorders affect the sleep of both the sleeper and the sleeper’s partner. Many solutions for snoring and OSA are available on the market, as people who snore look for solutions to these disorders, especially when the snoring becomes chronic.
Provent and Theravent are two such solutions, both made by the same manufacturer. The two products work to provide expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) during sleep. EPAP devices work by increasing pressure during exhalation, which helps keep the airway open. Open airways reduce snoring and the risk of apnea episodes.
Risks of Snoring
Habitual snoring is not in and of itself dangerous. It can disrupt your sleep patterns and certainly will disturb your partner’s sleep. While everyone snores on occasion, especially during allergy season or when suffering from a cold, habitual snoring stems from several causes.
Obstructed airways, poor throat muscle tone, and bulky throat tissue are frequent causes of habitual snoring. Poor muscle tone can be caused by deep sleep, excessive consumption of alcohol, especially near bed time, and sleeping pills. Aging contributes to the relaxation of these muscles. Overweight people may have bulky throat tissue.
These factors all contribute to airway obstruction. If the airway is wholly or partially obstructed, tissues vibrate. These vibrations can be loud, and that loudness is the snoring which bothers partners, and, if severe, can wake up the sleeper.
When you discover you are a habitual snorer, you should take steps to reduce the snoring. By finding the right snoring solutions, you may be able to avoid one of the biggest risks of snoring, obstructive sleep apnea.
Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is indicated when breathing is interrupted during sleep. The interruptions may happen many times during the night, and the interruptions lower oxygen levels in the blood.
While anyone can get OSA, several risk factors increase the risk of the ailment:
Sleep apnea can cause several health problems. These problems include:
Because it disrupts sleep, OSA can cause sleepiness during the day. This sleepiness can affect work or school performance, and lead to motor vehicle crashes if the driver dozes off while driving.
Theravent and Snoring
Theravent is an FDA approved, over-the-counter snoring aid aimed at reducing snoring. Theravent fits over both nostrils, allowing you to breathe in freely. On exhalation, however, the microvalves in the device provide resistance to the air flow. This resistance sets up a positive pressure situation through the throat, which opens the air way. The open airway reduces the snoring.
Theravent comes in three strengths. Lite, as the name suggests, is for light snorers. It has half the resistance as the Regular strength product. Regular is for moderate snorers, while Theravent Max is for loud, heavy snorers. Max provides twice the resistance as Regular.
Clinical trials on Theravent demonstrate significant reductions in snoring frequency, duration, and volume. Reductions of 76% were reported in the trials, and bed partners reported snoring volume decreases significantly higher than using nasal strips.
Use of Theravent
Users report it takes several nights to get used to Theravent—it is uncomfortable until they became used to it. A new user having difficulty falling asleep should remove the device and try again on a subsequent night. Breathing out through the mouth while falling asleep—or lying awake before sleeping—is also recommended.
Theravent operates differently than nose strips. The strips work to reduce congestion, while Theravent allows your breathing to provide the pressure needed to work.
Theravent should not be used in certain situations. If you have an upper respiratory ailment, such as a cold, you should avoid the device. People with sinus or ear infections, or a perforated eardrum, should also avoid it. You should not use Theravent if you have severe breathing problems, such as emphysema or asthma. Severe heart problems or very low blood pressure also indicate avoidance.
Using Theravent seems to present few risks. Several reactions, however, should cause you to stop using the device and contact your physician. For example, if you have an allergic reaction, you should stop—note that Theravent does not contain latex, although the manufacturer indicates it is made on machines which may also process products containing latex.
Other reasons to stop using Theravent are an inability to breathe through the mouth, skin or mucosal irritation or sores, nasal, sinus, or ear infections, or severe nose bleeds. These conditions may or may not be caused by the device—regardless, however, stop the use of it.
Provent and Sleep Apnea
Provent is available by prescription only and is intended to address OSA. Each nostril receives one of the Provent devices nightly. As with Theravent, the microvalves in the devices provide resistance when exhaling, creating the positive airway pressure which keeps the airway open. Provent also acts as a snoring aid, as well as a treatment for OSA.
Provent comes in three phases, allowing new users to become accustomed to the devices. Phase 1 has the resistance of Theravent regular, while Phase 2 provides the resistance of Theravent Max. The regular Provent—Phase 3—has twice the resistance of Theravent Max. The company notes that Phases 1 and 2 are non-therapeutic for OSA. They are available to allow people to get used to them. Provent notes that people using the starter kit, which contains all three phases, more readily become used to the product.
Clinical trials indicate the effectiveness of Provent. They show significant reduction of the Apnea-hypopnea Index (AHI) because of the device. The AHI is a record of the number of apneas/hypopneas recorded per hour of sleep, and severe OSA has an AHI of 30 or more. One student indicates a reduction in the AHI of 55% in week one, and 42.8% in month 3, which demonstrates the consistent success of the device.
Provent recommends using the Starter Kit to get accustomed to the product. The Starter Kit provides a 30-day supply of devices for all three phases—use Phase 1, or light resistance, for two nights, then Phase 2 for two nights, and the regular strength Provent for the rest of the month.
Use a Provent device per nostril. The application process is a bit fussy because you must ensure a good seal around each nostril. People who breathe through their mouth may benefit from Provent if they use a chinstrap.
Provent is not indicated in several situations, just like Theravent. Upper respiratory infections, allergic reactions, perforated eardrums, skin and mucosal irritation, and nose bleeds all mean you should stop using the devices. While Provent is latex-free, it may be manufactured in a facility which does process latex.
Provent may be able to replace your CPAP machine. It may not be used in conjunction with one, and some people use Provent while traveling and the CPAP machine while at home.
Both products are approved by the FDA. Theravent is approved for treatment of snoring, while Provent is approved for obstructive sleep apnea.
Provent was approved by the FDA in 2008, making it the older of the two products. Theravent was approved in 2012. Both use the same MicroValve technology to produce the positive airway pressure which is the hallmark of both devices.
Insurance and Medicare
Provent is, thus far, inconsistently covered by insurance. You will have to check with your insurance company to determine coverage issues. Theravent is not covered by insurance, because it is an over-the-counter product. Provent is not yet covered by Medicare, either.
If you have a health savings account or flexible spending account, you may use those funds for either product. The cost of Provent is roughly $60 per month, while Theravent runs around $20 for a 20-night supply (at the Max level). Both products will need to be used long-term for maximum benefits.
Customer Reaction and Reviews
Reviews for Theravent on Amazon are mixed, at best. One of the common negative comments is that they do not work for everyone, leading to a negative review. Difficulty in breathing and getting used to the product is also a common complaint.
Reading the reviews indicates a very positive and happy response from the people with favorable results using Theravent. While many note the product takes getting used to, they have found success both for them and their partners. It does seem to reduce snoring for many.
The product is a one-size-fits-all design. Because the human nose has as many variations as there are people, some people will find Theravent does not fit them.
Because it is available by prescription only, Provent is not available on Amazon. Reviews of Provent available at one online seller display the same mix as Theravent.
Many negative reviews focus on the one-size-fits-all characteristic of the product. One common complaint is it appears to be sized more for men than women. Positive comments note the fussiness of application, but also show that for many people, Provent does work to reduce snoring and alleviate problems with OSA.
One other frequent comment is that more Phase 1 and Phase 2 Provent devices should be included in the Starter Kit.
Other customers note a tendency to dry mouth with both products.
Both Provent and Theravent were originally invented by Ventus Medical. As noted previously, Provent was approved by the FDA in 2008, while Theravent received approval in 2012.
In 2013, Ventus Medical went out of business. Members of the management team, however, bought the assets and created Theravent, Inc., which manufactures both devices.
Theravent notes that by September 2016, it had provided over 5 million nights of quiet sleep—assuming the devices worked for everyone. That’s the equivalent of almost 13,700 years of sleep—for the users alone. Partners also presumably slept better.
Theravent has partnered with CVS nation-wide to increase the availability of the product. Theravent is also available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Solutions for OSA
Obstructive sleep apnea is susceptible to a variety of treatments. Many of these treatments involve the use of devices worn over the mouth and or nose.
The most well-known device is probably the CPAP machine, which provides continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP requires the sleeper to wear a mask over the mouth and nose. It provides the air pressure needed to keep the airway open. CPAP machines, and similar devices, work for many patients, although they can be noisy.
The FDA has approved over 100 oral appliances for use in OSA treatment. Worn like a sports mouth guard, the appliances thrust the jaw forward to keep the airway open. They brace the tongue, preventing it from collapsing back into the airway.
Any of these devices require an adjustment period, and none are guaranteed to work for everyone with OSA or heavy snoring. People will need to work with their health care providers and other resources to find the snoring aids which work for them.
If you think you are having sleeping difficulties due to snoring or sleep apnea, you might want to undergo a sleep study. Most insurances cover sleep studies, and will usually cover CPAP and some other devices if indicated by the sleep study.
Medicare may pay for certain sleep studies. If you display clinical signs and symptoms of OSA, Medicare will cover the medically necessary studies. Medicare’s requirements are very detailed, however, which means you will have to discuss with your health-care providers the nature of the tests to ensure coverage and acceptance of Medicare assignment.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Losing weight may be the single biggest way to reduce the incidence of sleep apnea in your life. Losing weight means decreasing throat tissue, which decreases obstruction of the airway. The added benefit is, of course, less snoring.
If you consume alcohol, avoid drinking close to going to sleep. Limiting alcohol close to bedtime means your muscles will not be as relaxed, and therefore you can reduce the incidence of apnea. Avoiding sleeping pills achieves the same results.
Some people find that changing sleep positions, especially sleeping on the side, may help, as will stopping smoking if you smoke.
Theravent and Provent can serve as snoring aids and treat obstructive sleep apnea. As with many products for these problems, they do not work for everyone. The people who have found them to work, however, generally find them very effective. The ability to do without another machine is part of that effectiveness.
Experimentation is required to find the treatment that is best for you. Consider Theravent and Provent, as they both have a solid record of accomplishment of reducing snoring and treating obstructive sleep apnea.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!