Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing caused by a total or partial obstruction of the upper airway due to muscle relaxation. The frequency of these respiratory events can vary from five to thirty times per hour or more in cases of severe apnea.
No medication can cure sleep apnea or eliminate the snoring that accompanies it, but there are different treatments depending on the severity of the breathing problems. Therefore, it is important to obtain a precise diagnosis from a doctor trained in sleep disorders in order to receive the most appropriate treatment for your needs and condition.
This treatment uses a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to open the airways by blowing air continuously at a pre-set pressure through a mask. It is the most effective way to treat sleep apnea, even the most severe cases.
Custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist, this device must be worn during sleep. It holds the lower jaw in a forward position to facilitate airflow. The use of an orthosis is recommended for people with mild to moderate apnea or when CPAP therapy is not possible.
Some surgical procedures to open the upper airway (nose or pharynx) or promote weight loss (overweight is a risk factor for OSA) can be performed to try to reduce sleep apnea, but their effectiveness varies. They are suggested when there is a clear anatomical abnormality or when CPAP therapy is poorly tolerated or ineffective.