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The Clinical Significance of Snoring

Clifford Zwillich, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(1):24. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630380012005.
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Snoring during sleep is considered a novelty and in its most severe form (loud and consistent) only an annoyance to the snorer's bed partner. However, the family members of patients with the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome often state that these patients have had "heavy snoring" for years before serious symptoms appear.1,2 This syndrome is characterized by recurrent apneas, leading to hypoxemia and hypercapnia, which results in pulmonary and systemic hypertension and cardiac arrhythmias during sleep. The frequent apneas lead to interruption of normal sleep pattern, resulting in daytime hypersomnolence. The loud snoring appears to be caused by intermittent hypotonia of the tongue muscle, which results in decreased patency of the upper airway. In its most severe form the pharyngeal obstruction is complete, causing apnea until a sleep arousal occurs, which results in a temporary increase in muscle tone and airway patency.3

A recent yet incomplete study suggests that


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