Jefferson University Hospitals

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Related Content
  • Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy
    Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy
    A new sleep apnea treatment that senses your breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles.
    Learn More >

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious condition in which individuals have partial or complete obstruction of their upper airway during sleep. Most sufferers complain of loud snoring, daytime sleepiness and poor sleep quality. Many are overweight, although some are not. Sleep apnea even affects children.

If left untreated, OSA can cause daytime sleepiness, poor sleep quality, high blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels (as in diabetes), heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, depression, memory problems, sexual difficulties, weight gain and headaches.

The Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, provides clinical, research and educational services for the diagnosis and treatment of nearly 100 sleep disorders, including OSA. The Center also works in collaboration with Jefferson otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat physicians), lung specialists, dentists, cardiologists and other specialists to evaluate your condition.

Though obstructive sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, it is more common in men, people who are over 40 years old and those who are overweight.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Falling asleep while driving or while inactive such as sitting at a computer or watching TV
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom at night
  • Heartburn during sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory problems
  • Morning headaches
  • Snoring
  • Witnessed pauses in breathing or gasping for air

There are many causes for the aforementioned symptoms that are not related to OSA. Therefore, it is not sufficient to make the diagnosis of OSA based on history alone. If your physician suspects OSA, a sleep study may be ordered. This test involves being observed and monitored during sleep. Our polysomnographic technicians monitor patient sleep studies in a state-of-the-art laboratory control room and highly comfortable bedrooms.

Various Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

If OSA is detected, our specialists will discuss various treatment options with you. These include:

  • Upper airway stimulation therapy, where a small implanted device senses your breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, keeping your airway open during sleep.
  • The use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) devices during sleep, which introduce room air into the upper airway to keep it open during sleep. We offer a free CPAP Education Clinic for patients to address difficulties with CPAP.
  • Dental appliances to keep your jaw forward while you sleep; we work with a team of specialized dentists who do this.
  • Weight loss; we work with a team of dieticians, alternative medicine specialists and others to help you lose weight.
  • Surgery, (we work with a team of experienced surgeons) such as:
    • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty to remove excess tissue at the back of the throat
    • Surgery on the nose and sinuses
    • Laser-assisted uvuloplasty
    • Genioglossus advancement
    • Uvula pillar implants
  • Body positioning devices
  • Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and avoiding CNS suppressants
  • Various medications