Get the most up to date information about this exciting new breakthrough for sleep apnea treatment.
First of all, it's "Airing" not "Airring"
Make sure you know what you're searching for on Google! A lot of folks have been inquiring with Singular Sleep about "Airring" or the " new miniCPAP" - the correct spelling is actually "Airing," and miniCPAP is how Transcend has branded their portable continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Read on to learn more about this revolutionary product. We hope to be able to sell Airing as an authorized dealer when it becomes available, so stay tuned.
What is Airing micro-CPAP for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
How would you like to treat your OSA without an uncomfortable mask, hose or machine? Millions of CPAP users just raised their hands collectively! Sounds pretty good, right? Now let's make that treatment 1.5 inches long and for a price that won't break the bank. The promise of this unbeatable combination is what has made Airing micro-CPAP one of the most-hyped, novel sleep apnea treatments ever. Airing micro-CPAP uses electrostatic force delivered through micro-blower plates to keep the airway open while sleeping.
Change You Can and Can't Believe in
Although Airing micro-CPAP signifies a radical change in sleep apnea therapy, you will still need to have a sleep apnea test to diagnose OSA. Since the manufacturers are seeking FDA approval for the indication for sleep apnea treatment, you will also need a prescription for the Airing micro-CPAP device.
"Not so fast, Airing..." - The FDA
The Airing website says that the device is awaiting approval by the FDA. The FDA is renowned for its oodles of red tape and bureaucracy. The convoluted process of getting a medical device approved can take a lot of time and money. Airing will need to be tested for safety and, barring no issues at that stage, can then move to clinical testing. Research studies will need to be done to prove that Airing is effective in treating sleep apnea. What doctors really like to see are studies where new devices, like Airing, are tested head-to-head against existing treatments, like CPAP therapy. Companies rarely do this right out of the gate for fear that their product won't measure up and the product launch will be a complete catastrophe. Suffice it to say that medical device companies need to be sure that they have enough funds to weather the storm of FDA approval, which leads into the next topic.
Money, It's a Drag
Airing is using a crowdfunding campaign to finance the device development and launch. This is basically a grassroots way of obtaining funding. The Airing team is using a platform called Indiegogo to raise money. This can be a hit-or-miss strategy - unlike obtaining funds from a bank loan or venture capital, there is no guarantee that the requisite amount of funding will be obtained. The Airing website boasts 15,000 people have already contributed to the campaign and it is "896% funded," so that seems promising. However, cost underestimation commonly plagues medical products, so let's hope that Airing has the cash to go the distance. You can get involved for as little as $10, which will get you quarterly e-report updates about the product. For $1000, you can become a "Platinum Member" and secure your invitation to the product launch party.
Don't put your CPAP machine on Craigslist just yet...
Medicine has a tendency to move slowly and conservatively. New treatments are not immediately embraced, out of concern that there is not enough of a track record of success. Doctors take their patients' health very seriously and don't want to put them at risk. Most providers have to feel totally comfortable with a treatment before recommending it. There is also the "knowledge gap" - it takes a while for doctors to learn about new therapies such as the Airing micro-CPAP. So don't necessarily expect to go to your doctor's office the day the Airing debuts and come out with a prescription. You may be teaching your doctor about the treatment!
Some of the questions that are yet to be resolved are about the efficacy of the device. Will it be lumped in with oral appliances for sleep apnea and Provent as an alternative treatment for mild and moderate degrees of sleep apnea but only second line for severe sleep apnea? The website indicates that Airing is capable of generating pressures "in excess" of 20 cwp. 20 cwp is the maximum pressure that CPAP machines can generate. If this capability is borne out, perhaps it will it be FDA-approved for the entire gamut of sleep apnea, including severe sleep apnea, which would be truly revolutionary. There are currently no great alternatives to positive airway pressure for severe sleep apnea besides perhaps invasive jaw expansion surgery.
The other obvious issue is, like Provent, if you have problems with nasal breathing, you're probably not going to be a good candidate for Airing micro-CPAP. Having the tendency to be a mouth-breather will only be worsened by a "nasal pillows" type device. It might be reasonable for some people to use a chin strap to promote their mouth staying closed.
Another possible stumbling block is possible discomfort from the "nasal prongs" that hold the device in your nose. Sticking something up the nose is one of the most irritating stimuli known to man; sometimes it is used to try to wake people up from a stupor. In order to secure the device in the nose without a harness, the prongs will have to be fairly long, probably longer than a typical nasal pillows mask. The question will be, can Airing find the perfect balance of nasal prongs that are long enough and bulky enough to stay in the nose during the normal movements of sleep, but not too big to be intolerable?
Price: Will You Be Able to Afford Airing?
The Airing website says that each device will cost "$3.00 or 0.60 after insurance reimbursement." The device is single-use only, so a month's supply would involve 30 single-use devices. The insurance reimbursement assumption may be overly optimistic; it usually takes years of vetting before insurances will pay for new medical devices. Hopefully, the Airing folks have great relationships with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, United, and CMS to get the device covered sooner rather than later. Provent has been out for years and has tremendous scientific research behind it supporting its efficacy in treating OSA and its tolerability; the vast majority of health care insurers, however, still are not covering Provent. If insurance doesn't cover the Airing device, $90 per month may be too expensive for some sleep apnea sufferers.
Singular Sleep will keep you abreast of all the latest news and reviews about this eagerly-awaited treatment.
Joseph Krainin, M.D., FAASM is the founder of Singular Sleep, the world's first online sleep center. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and board-certified in both sleep medicine and neurology. He has been practicing medicine for over 10 years.