By Phillip S. LoSavio, MD
As an otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon who is head of the Section of Sleep Surgery at Rush, I meet with many sleep apnea patients who have been suffering with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) for years and sometimes decades.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to have intermittent blockage of their throat while sleeping at night. This leads to poor quality sleep and even decreases in nighttime blood oxygen levels in severe cases.
One cannot help but have empathy for these patients. All of us know what it feels like to have a poor night’s sleep from time to time, but it is hard to imagine what it might be like to go through life like that day in and day out.
Some of my patients say they are afraid to go to sleep, concerned they may stop breathing and not wake up. The first thing I explain to my patients is that there are many options available. I’m not going to give up on them, and they shouldn’t give up on themselves.