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Acta Otolaryngol. 1999;119(8):925-33.

Heavy snorer's disease: a progressive local neuropathy.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


"Heavy snorer's disease" is defined as progression from heavy snoring to obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS). Apart from significant weight gain, the aetiology underlying progression to a collapse of the upper airways during inspiration and sleep remains unclear. Previous studies have shown that nocturnal respiratory disturbances became worse, even in some OSAS patients who did not gain weight. The patency of the upper airways depends on the balance between the negative intrapharyngeal pressure developed during inspiration and its counteraction by dilating muscles. The reflexogenic dilation is probably mediated by afferent nerve endings in the pharyngeal mucosa. Chronic vibration of a tissue may cause neuronal damage. Therefore, the hypothesis that snoring per se might cause progressive pharyngeal nerve lesion has been tested in a series of studies from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, which, along with other studies, will be reviewed here. In these studies it was found that a majority of patients with heavy snoring and different degrees of respiratory disturbance had signs of pharyngeal afferent and efferent (motor) nerve lesions. These lesions may cause the collapse of upper airways in OSAS. Since it is not known which "heavy snorer" will develop OSAS, early effective prevention and or treatment of snoring is called for.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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