Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder defined as an absence of breathing for at least 10 seconds, despite an effort to breathe. It is regarded as a major threat to the overall health of a person, as it results in various other conditions like insomnia, lethargy, daytime sleepiness, weakened immunity, blood pressure hypertension, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal reflux disease, hypoxia, nerve damage, decreased motor and memory function and more.
OSA has both anatomic and physiological factors: Anatomic factors- nose, tongue, lateral pharyngeal walls, soft palate, tonsils and parapharyngeal fat pads; Physiological factors-reduced reflex responses of the tongue and soft palate muscles to negative airway pressure.
It is estimated that about half of people who snore loudly have OSA, and 20% of adults have at least mild OSA. 24% of the population over the age of 60 is afflicted, together with an estimated 7% of women and 23% of men aged 30, totaling about 38M patients in the US. Furthermore, 80% of patients with OSA are believed to be undiagnosed, few symptomatic patients are diagnosed and even fewer are treated.
Available treatments for OSA include pillows and recliners, which are shown to decrease overall snoring among adults, and are often used with other snoring aids. Furthermore, automatic PAP machines are used in chronic patients who reject surgery as an option and are highly effective in soothing muscles near the oral and nasal cavity.
Many of these devices employ steam or positive air pressure via a nasal tube that allow for greater air flow through the nasal cavity.