For several reasons, Edward Meyers Jr. of New Lenox hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in many years.
That made it rough getting up for his job as an electrician, and for life in general. “I couldn’t sleep more than a couple hours each night,” said Meyers, 68, now retired.
“One night about 12 years ago, my wife Peggy noticed I had stopped breathing while I was sleeping. I scheduled a sleep study, and the doctor said I stopped breathing 46 times in one hour! I said, ‘How am I still alive?’”
Some 25 million Americans go to sleep and don’t realize they may stop breathing 15 to 65 times an hour. They are victims of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and it’s as dangerous as it sounds.
OSA occurs when tissues in the airway collapse during sleep and block the flow of oxygen to the brain. The brain senses this and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath, then the body falls back asleep.
Meyers was prescribed a home CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which he said initially worked. But then he started having dry mouth and sore throats and was limited to sleeping or napping only near the CPAP.
Then he heard about Inspire Therapy, which works inside the body with a patient’s natural breathing process to treat sleep apnea. Meyers called and connected with Dr. Rajeev Mehta, a board-certified otolaryngologist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital.
Dr. Mehta was intrigued when he heard about Inspire Therapy, a procedure that would allow those with OSA to get the airflow their bodies need for a healthy night’s sleep.
Meyers turned out to be Dr. Mehta’s first Inspire patient in November 2021. But first, Dr. Mehta performed surgery to open Meyers’ nasal passages two weeks before implanting Inspire.
To be a candidate, Dr. Mehta said OSA sufferers must have been diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea, cannot get constant benefit from a CPAP, are not significantly obese (BMI 35 or less) and must be 18 years or older.
The Inspire device, implanted during a 1 ½-hour surgery, delivers mild stimulation to airway muscles, allowing the airway to open during sleep.
Meyers said he needed to heal before Dr. Mehta gave him the controller, which he said is easy to use.
“When you’re ready for bed, you push the green button, which turns the device on,” Meyers explained. “I can feel the stimulation move my tongue forward, away from my throat. Then it pauses for about a half hour to give you time to fall asleep without feeling that sensation. And you don’t feel it while you’re asleep.”
While Dr. Mehta notes Inspire Therapy may not work for everyone, studies show 90 percent of bed partners reported hearing no snoring or just soft snoring.
Inspire is covered by most major insurance providers, as well as Medicare reimbursement and VA benefits at select locations.
Meyers said it has been a life-changer. “I love it. I can’t imagine living without it now.”
For more information, visit www.silvercross.org.
Silver Cross Hospital
1900 Silver Cross Blvd
New Lenox, IL 60451