The link between sleep apnea and the pandemic

Medical Doctor, John Simmons, discusses the link between sleep apnea and COVID

Recently, John "Caleb" Simmons, MD, Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) at ARC South 1st Specialty and Pediatrics, appeared in a news story on Spectrum News discussing sleep apnea and the pandemic. Dr. Simmons said that the number of patients coming into his office with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has increased during the pandemic.

He says people spending more time at home because of the pandemic has led to partners noticing snoring they hadn't noticed before. "I joke that spouses are our biggest referrals," Dr. Simmons said. "So often, bed partners will talk about snoring. People will notice times when the patient starts to stop breathing during the night."

Sleep apnea can also be linked to weight gain, something many of his patients are dealing with too.

Inspire sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that affects millions of people. It is characterized by numerous involuntary breathing pauses or "apneic events" during a single night's sleep. "The patient has trouble breathing," Simmons said. "The oxygen drops. Often it produces these events called arousals, where a patient is unable to get into deep sleep."

Neal Leissner, a patient of Dr. Simmons, has been dealing with OSA for years. Over the last decade he has struggled to stay awake while on the job due to poor quality sleep at night.

He had been using the CPAP machine, a mask worn at night that pushes air into the mouth and throat. After continuously removing the mask every night while sleeping and knowing the risks of COVID-19, last summer, Leissner decided to go in for treatment.

Dr. Simmons encouraged Leissner to try out Inspire, a device that controls the tongue while sleeping.

"Inspire hypoglossal nerve stimulation, is a new approach to treating sleep apnea," Dr. Simmons said. "It helps treat a collapse in muscle tone during the night. We basically use a nerve stimulator to push the tongue forward, actually lift the soft palate to open up the throat, without having to use all the air pressure from the CPAP."

After treatment, Leissner can finally get through his tasks without a problem. Something he had struggled with most of his life.

Make an appointment today.

To find out if the Inspire sleep apnea treatment is right for you, make an appointment with Dr. Simmons today. Call ARC South 1st Specialty and Pediatrics at 512-443-1311 or make an appointment online at

Tags: COVID-19, Sleep Apnea