Primary Snoring

Primary Snoring

Also known as simple snoring is characterized by loud upper airway breathing sounds in sleep without episodes of apnea (cessation of breath).

How is snoring created?

Snoring is a noise produced when an individual breathes (usually produced when breathing in) during sleep which in turn causes vibration of the soft palate and uvula (that thing that hangs down in the back of the throat). The word “apnea” means the absence of breathing.

All snorers have incomplete obstruction (a block) of the upper airway. Many habitual snorers have complete episodes of upper airway obstruction where the airway is completely blocked for a period of time, usually 10 seconds or longer. This type of snoring is associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

How Does Primary Snoring Differ from Snoring that Indicates Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

• A complaint of snoring by an observer w/o witnessed gasping
• No evidence of insomnia or excessive sleepiness due to snoring
• No dryness of the mouth upon awakening

Also, a polysomnogram (sleep study) will show:
Snoring but…

• No associated abrupt arousals, arterial oxygen desaturation (lowered amount of oxygen in the blood) or cardiac disturbances
• Normal sleep pattern/histogram
• Normal respiratory pattern during sleep
• No signs of another sleep disorder

What can be done about snoring?

First of all, it is necessary to rule out obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Behavioural and lifestyle changes may be suggested. Losing weight, sleeping on your side, refraining from alcohol and sedatives are recommended.

Additional options may include:

Oral/Dental Devices:

There are mouth/oral devices (that help keep the airway open) on the market that may help to reduce snoring in several different ways.

Some devices:
• Bring the jaw forward or,
• Elevate the soft palate or,
• Retain the tongue (from falling back in the airway and thus decreasing snoring) or,
• All of the above.

Oral/Nasal Surgery:

There is also surgery. There is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) which involves removing excess tissue from the throat. The newest surgery, approved by the FDA in July 1997 for treating snoring is called somnoplasty and uses radio frequency waves to remove excess tissue. Recent studies demonstrate that these procedures are effective in the treatment of primary snoring, and in select cases for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Particularly, UPPP is effective in treating children and adolescents with OSA secondary to enlarged tonsils.

What are the signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If you or someone you know snores regularly and has one or more of the following symptoms, it may be Obstructive Sleep Apnea: • Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing
• Gasping or choking during sleep
• Restless Sleep
• Excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day
• Poor judgment or concentration
• Irritability
• Memory loss
• High blood pressure
• Depression
• Obesity
• Large neck size (>17″ in men; >16″ in women)
• Crowded airway
• Morning headache
• Sexual dysfunction
• Frequent urination at night

What should you do if you suspect you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

See your doctor; evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended. Have a sleep study done; a sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.

What is the treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), pronounced “see-PAP.”
Other less common treatments include surgery and oral appliances, which may be effective in certain individuals. Any treatments should include weight loss if needed, exercise, and avoidance of alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotics.

— Dee S., Lafayette, L.A.

Courtesy of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (