The Bongo Rx is an alternative sleep apnea therapy manufactured by AirAvant Medical. First released in 2019, the feedback Bongo Rx received was actually quite positive. Its worth was endorsed by several doctors and their patients. It had undergone clinical-testing and was even FDA-cleared. Plus, in 2020, Bongo Rx was nominated for an Edison Award; a prestigious recognition for innovative products.
All of this is well and good, but Bongo Rx is still a micro CPAP machine. If you’ve been a long-time follower of Aeroflow Sleep’s blog, you may recall when Bongo Rx’s competition, the Airing, was tested by one of our patients. It did not go well and was deemed “something faulty.” Is Bongo Rx any better? Our scientific, investigative journalism is here with the answer.
What Is A Micro CPAP?
Not to be confused with travel CPAPs—especially those with “micro” in the name; like Somnetics’ Transcend Micro Auto Travel CPAP Machine—a micro CPAP machine is a small anti-snoring device. Sleep apnea patients insert the device into the nasal openings but without the need for supplies and attachments, meaning no headgear, no tubing, and no machine.
Needless to say, micro CPAPs are in a league of their own. The league isn’t necessarily a better one though, because the healthcare industry does not recognize micro CPAPs as a viable sleep apnea treatment. In fact, unlike Bongo Rx, the Airing is not FDA-cleared.
Michelle Worley, Director of Clinical Operations at Aeroflow Sleep and Registered Nurse, further debunked Airing’s potential (with the help of our patient from the aforementioned blog) and has little more to say about the product now. Here’s a video of their findings:
Michelle said then about Airing, “The micro-blowers inside are traditionally used to cool computer chips [in an effort] to prevent overheating,” but what about Bongo Rx?
Does Bongo Rx Really Work?
The difference between Bongo Rx and Airing is that it isn’t attempting to replace continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) with fans for computer chips. Instead, Bongo Rx uses expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP,) and EPAP works with exhaled air rather than a machine regulating the pressure. So, every time you exhale, the seal around the Bongo Rx EPAP device automatically maintains the pressure of your last inhale, preventing your upper airways from collapsing while you breathe.
EPAP therapy does not work for everyone, and Airavant Medical is nobly upfront about it. You cannot use their product to treat severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA,) nor will it treat complex sleep apnea; the neurological kind where your brain fails to send signals to the throat muscles, telling them to stay open. Those with mild to moderate OSA however are welcome to see if Bongo Rx works for them.
Do You Need A Prescription For Bongo Rx?
Another reason Bongo Rx shows promise is that you do need a prescription to try it; after all, Rx is literally in the name. Because Bongo Rx is a prescription-required device, you will need a sleep apnea diagnosis. That means you will also need a sleep study, which means you will need to see a doctor, and only if your doctor recommends Bongo Rx, will you then be able to get one.
You may be asking yourself, what makes that process different from ordering a CPAP machine? Absolutely nothing, and that’s a good thing! While Airing could be purchased directly off sites like Amazon, Airavant Medical takes your sleep health seriously. They want to ensure that your AHI falls below 30, that you do not have CSA, and ultimately that the Bongo Rx device is right for you. Unless you meet the above criteria, Bongo Rx is not safe.
I Meet The Criteria. What Are The Benefits?
Now that we’ve done a thorough comparison between Bongo Rx and Airing—two micro CPAPs, how does Bongo Rx stack up against a traditional CPAP machine; like Philips Respironics’ Dreamstation or ResMed’s AirSense devices? Surprisingly, the benefits of Bongo Rx are still numerous.
The #1 benefit is obviously watching your sleep apnea symptoms slowly diminish, but where Bongo Rx really excels is in its design:
- A simple device, Bongo Rx doesn't use electricity or batteries
- It’s so tiny that it can fit in a shirt pocket
- Its soft nasal seals mimic a nasal pillow CPAP mask but (again) without headgear
- Yet, you can choose to include optional headgear with your order
Plus, if you meet the criteria, your first order will be for the Bng500, Airavant Medical’s Bongo Rx starter kit. It comes with reusable silicone inserts (ranging in sizes extra small to extra large,) a travel case, and a drying stand. You do need to clean the inserts regularly like you would any CPAP mask.
Does Aeroflow Sleep Carry Bongo Rx?
At this time, Aeroflow Sleep does not carry Bongo Rx. We admit that it is in better standing with us as a sleep apnea therapy device than Airing ever was, but until the healthcare industry openly recognizes the micro CPAP machine, we do not foresee them making an appearance in our product list.
The CPAP alternatives we do approve of include oral appliance therapy, positional therapy, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Be that as it may, PAP therapy is the gold standard for a reason. Most struggling with their machines often need very minor corrections; like adjusting your pressure settings or adding heated elements to your setup. All you have to do is talk to your doctor or dedicated Aeroflow Sleep Specialist.
Peters, Brandon. Edited by Daniel More, Overview of the Airing Micro-CPAP Device, VeryWell Health, 3 Nov. 2021, https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-the-airing-microcpap-device-3015315.
Wu H, Yuan X, Zhan X, Li L, Wei Y. A review of EPAP nasal device therapy for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Sleep Breath. 2015 Sep;19(3):769-74. doi: 10.1007/s11325-014-1057-y. Epub 2014 Sep 23. PMID: 25245174.