, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 159-164

Snoring exclusively during nasal breathing: a newly described respiratory pattern during sleep

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to describe a distinctive respiratory pattern seen in subjects with inferior turbinate hypertrophy, nasal obstruction, and a polysomnogram-proven diagnosis of primary snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea. These subjects demonstrated increased snoring with purely nasal breathing and alleviation of snoring with oral breathing. The study design is case series with chart review. The setting was a university-based tertiary care hospital.

Methods

A retrospective chart review was performed for patients with complaints of nasal obstruction with associated inferior turbinate hypertrophy and a polysomnogram-proven diagnosis of mild obstructive sleep apnea or primary snoring. Demographic and polysomnography information were collected and analyzed. Snoring and airflow patterns were reviewed.

Results

Twenty-five subjects were identified as having met the inclusion and exclusion criteria on polysomnography for either primary snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea with inferior turbinate hypertrophy and no other significant nasal deformity or abnormality. Seventeen (68 %) of these patients had polysomnograms which demonstrated snoring during nasal breathing and alleviation of snoring with oral breathing. Of the 17 who snored during nasal breathing, ten of the subjects were female and seven of the subjects were male. The mean age was 27 years (range 18 to 68 years). The mean apnea–hypopnea index was 2.3 events/h (range 0 to 9.7 events/h). The mean body mass index was 25 kg/m2 (range 20 to 43 kg/m2).

Conclusion

Our study describes a newly recognized pattern of snoring in patients with a polysomnogram-proven diagnosis of either primary snoring or mild obstructive sleep apnea. This pattern of breathing demonstrates patients who snore during nasal breathing even with known nasal obstruction present and subsequently have resolution or improvement of the snoring with oral breathing.

The work was completed in the Department of Otolaryngology at Stanford University Medical Center.