SALEM, Va. – Dr. Brian Gross was born at LewisGale Hospital in Salem. Today he works there as an ear, nose and throat doctor.
He is the first doctor in Southwest Virginia to provide safe and effective alternative treatment for a common condition: obstructive sleep apnea.
“In the United States alone, around 22 million people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea,” said Gross.
“Sleep apnea is an incredibly dangerous condition. It’s a bit like high blood pressure. It’s a silent killer, ”said Gross. “Often times people don’t get any immediate complications. In any case, it has a direct impact on the quality of life, as people can be very tired all day, the risk of car accidents increases, fall asleep at the wheel, labor productivity can decrease. These are the more immediate things. In the long term, especially in people with severe sleep apnea, there is a direct link to heart attack, stroke and even death. “
Typically, patients use a CPAP machine that pushes oxygen-rich air into their airways while they sleep so they can breathe.
The problem is that only about 50% of people diagnosed can tolerate wearing one.
“It is uncomfortable. It’s a lot of pressure. It makes noise, ”said Gross.
This is where the Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation System can help. Similar to a pacemaker, a sensor is placed in your chest that is connected to a stimulator attached to a nerve in your neck. When it’s on, every time you inhale it sends a small shock to your tongue and throat, forcing your airways to open.
Gross said it was a minimally invasive outpatient procedure.
“It’s minimal pain and side effects. And frankly, it’s one of the few treatments outside of CPAP that is highly effective, ”said Gross.
More importantly, he said, it can be life changing.
“It’s fantastic that you can move from a machine that you have to lug everywhere, that you have to take with you when you go on vacation, you have to remember,” said Gross, “where to, with this device – with that Hypoglossal “nerve stimulator – it’s implanted. It accompanies you everywhere. And really, you just turn it on and it works. “
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