Snoring-Induced Nerve Lesions in the Upper Airway

Rajesh P Poothrikovil, Mohammed A Al Abri


The prevalence of habitual snoring is extremely high in the general population, and is reported to be roughly 40% in men and 20% in women. The low-frequency vibrations of snoring may cause physical trauma and, more specifically, peripheral nerve injuries, just as jobs which require workers to use vibrating tools over the course of many years result in local nerve lesions in the hands. Histopathological analysis of upper airway (UA) muscles have shown strong evidence of a varying severity of neurological lesions in groups of snoring patients. Neurophysiological assessment shows evidence of active and chronic denervation and re-innervation in the palatopharyngeal muscles of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients. Neurogenic lesions of UA muscles induced by vibration trauma impair the reflex dilation abilities of the UA, leading to an increase in the possibility of UA collapse. The neurological factors which are partly responsible for the progressive nature of OSAS warrant the necessity of early assessment in habitual snorers.


Neurogenic; Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS); Palatopharyngeal Muscle; Snoring; Upper airway; Trauma.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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