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Acta Otolaryngol. 2012 May;132(5):510-8. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2011.644803. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Upper airway symptoms in primary snoring and in sleep apnea.

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Division of Pulmonary Diseases, Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.



Upper airway symptoms were common in subjects referred for sleep study. In particular, nasal stuffiness and airway dryness already seemed to bother snorers before development of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Mouth dryness increased with severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).


Upper airway symptoms are common in patients with OSAS. However, prevalence of these symptoms is unknown in primary snoring and mild OSA. We evaluated frequency of upper airway symptoms in a large group of patients referred for diagnostic sleep studies.


We examined 524 consecutive subjects (69% men, mean ± SD age 51 ± 12 years, apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) 15 ± 21, body mass index 31 ± 6) by a questionnaire-based survey. The subjects filled in a questionnaire enquiring about current upper airway symptoms and history of nasal and pharyngeal disorders before the sleep study.


Frequent upper airway symptoms among study subjects were common: 56% of the patients reported throat dryness, 55% mouth dryness, 54% nasal stuffiness, 52% nose dryness, 33% sneezing, 33% postnasal drip, and 24% rhinorrhea. The patients with moderate or severe OSAS (AHI ≥15 and Epworth sleepiness score ≥10) suffered from mouth dryness more often (71% vs 40%, p < 0.01) than those with mild or no OSAS.

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