A Google search using the key words “snoring” and “treatment” yielded over 5m results, but no standard treatment is available for primary snoring or snoring associated with a mild form of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). But, there is hope for all of those sleepless bed partners – a Brazilian study has found that in patients with primary snoring or mild OSA, oropharyngeal, or mouth and tongue, exercises significantly reduced the frequency of snoring by 36% and total power of snoring by 59%.
Snoring is one of the most common symptoms associated with OSA and is caused by vibration of the soft tissues obstructing the pharynx during sleep. However, most people who snore do not have OSA. The prevalence of snoring in the general population varies widely (from 15% to 54%) mainly because most studies rely on self-reporting by patients. Despite the evidence that snoring is a major burden to our society, the management of patients with primary snoring or mild OSA has been poorly investigated.
Treatment of primary snoring varies widely and includes avoiding alcohol and sedatives, avoiding lying flat on the back to sleep, weight loss, treatment of nasal problems, palate and upper airway surgeries, and use of dental sleep devices.
“Past studies have focused on self-reporting questionnaires. New forms of treatment for snoring focusing on objective measures were needed. We tested the effectiveness of oropharyngeal exercises to reduce snoring,” said Dr Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, study author, “the exercises significantly reduced snoring in our study group.”
“This study demonstrates a promising, non-invasive treatment for large populations suffering from snoring, the snorers and their bed partners, that are largely omitted from research and treatment,” said Dr Barbara Phillips, president-designate, American College of Chest Physicians, and medical director, Sleep Laboratory at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. “Frankly, this will change the advice that I give to my patients who snore. And that’s a lot of people.”