Signifier Medical Technologies recently received FDA clearance for a new device that treats primary snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unlike most OSA treatment devices, this is used during the day while the patient is awake. The eXciteOSA is a small device that rests inside the mouth for just 20 minutes a day; it connects with a mobile app that allows users to track their symptoms and providers to monitor sleep patterns remotely.

Caused by an obstruction of the upper airways during sleep, OSA interferes with nighttime breathing. Weak tongue muscles allow the tongue to over-relax and fall backward during sleep, often resulting in snoring. Tongue blockage also leads to OSA. When combined with other risk factors such as Type 2 diabetes, age, and increased body weight, OSA can lead to other health issues. These include mood and cognitive disorders caused by lack of sleep, as well as high blood pressure, stroke, and recurrent heart attacks.

Unlike a CPAP machine which uses forced air pressure to hold airways open through the night, eXciteOSA addresses the condition’s root cause. The device delivers low-frequency neuromuscular stimulation via four electrodes that rest on the tongue. The low-grade electrical current strengthens the tongue’s muscle fibers so that it doesn’t collapse and block airflow.

The gold standard in OSA treatment, CPAP therapy is highly effective but discomfort and other drawbacks interfere with patient compliance. There’s no data yet regarding whether eXciteOSA could replace or help patients avoid CPAP therapy. However, several studies suggest that mild OSA can worsen over time. Treating mild OSA could prevent disease progression and avert the most dangerous health complications associated with the condition. Ease of use, short treatment duration, smartphone tracking, and remote monitoring capabilities should increase patient compliance, potentially making eXciteOSA a game-changer in the quest for better options to address OSA.