Utah man finds sleep apnea relief with Inspire sleep therapy

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EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Jeremy Ward had always felt tired.

"I used to fall asleep at the wheel, fall asleep reading, fall asleep in movies, fall asleep talking," he said. "I felt like a zombie."

The Utah dad of six and avid biker said his fatigue was heavily affecting his day-to-day life.

"I just couldn't function," he said.

After undergoing sleep studies and other tests, Ward was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by breathing interruptions — at least five per hour. Ward's breathing had stopped 61 times per hour.

"When you get into deep levels of sleep where it's normal for your body to relax, the tissues relax enough that they actually obstruct the airway, and then you're trying to breathe against a closed airway. Eventually, your brain realizes it's not breathing and wakes you up," Dr. Glen Porter, an ear, nose and throat physician with Intermountain Health Medical Group at Intermountain American Fork Specialty Clinic, said.

Porter said obesity is the main risk factor for sleep apnea, but genetics also play a role.

"Some people are just prone to this, and their anatomy just puts them at higher risk for this," Porter said.

While the most common sign is constant fatigue, other symptoms of sleep apnea may include loud snoring, dry mouth, headaches, memory problems and depression.

Treatment can include lifestyle changes (like focusing on a healthy diet and exercise), surgeries, devices like continuous positive airway pressure machines, or CPAPs, and therapies, all of which Ward had tried.

"I had eight surgeries, plus the CPAPs, the sleep studies, the different types of masks — both nasal and oral ... nothing was working," he said.

It wasn't until he received the Inspire implant that he found relief.

Inspire sleep therapy is an FDA-approved treatment option for those who cannot tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure machine.

"We implant a little battery device below the skin of your chest, run a little wire up to the nerve that innervates your tongue. When you turn it on at night, it will sense that you're taking a breath, and it will stimulate your tongue to move forward out of your airway and keep your airway open so that you can continue to breathe all night long," Porter said.

Ward said he's noticed a major improvement and is finally able to get the rest he needs.

"I would have done it earlier had I known how effective it was going to be," he said.

Not everyone with sleep apnea qualifies for Inspire sleep therapy, so it's best to talk with your doctor about what treatment option is right for you.

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Emma Benson
Emma Benson is a storyteller and broadcast media professional, passionate about sharing truthful, meaningful stories that will impact communities. She graduated with a journalism degree from BYU, and has worked as a morning news anchor with KIFI News Group in Idaho Falls. She joined the KSL-TV team in October 2023.


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