New Technique Treats Primary Snoring

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There is good news tonight, and perhaps every night, for those who have primary snoring or who live with a snoring partner. A technique called radiofrequency ablation combined with partial uvulectomy can successfully reduce snoring.

Both sexes snore: studies estimate that 45 percent of men and 30 percent of women snore regularly. People who do not snore on a regular basis may experience snoring after drinking alcohol, when taking certain medications, or after suffering a viral infection.

Although snoring differs in terms of loudness and the types of sounds that the person makes (e.g., snorting, hissing, whistling, and so on), another major distinction about snoring is whether it is associated with an underlying medical condition or disease, or it is not (primary snoring). More specifically, primary snoring is not associated with obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, upper airway resistance, or other sleep disorders. Making this distinction is important for several reasons, one of which is it determines how snoring should be treated. While there are generally accepted treatments for sleep apnea, there are no gold standard approaches for treatment of primary snoring.

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In the current study, which was presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation Annual Meeting in San Diego, the researchers discussed treatment of primary snoring in 60 patients using a combination of radiofrequency of the soft palate and partial uvulectomy (partial removal of the uvula) to determine whether it was effective long-term.

When compared with the level of snoring before the procedures, the severity of snoring was reduced after only two treatments with radiofrequency. After a three-year follow-up, 76 percent of the patients were still satisfied with the results.

Primary snoring can be more than an annoyance; it can be an early indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease. Therefore an effective treatment for primary snoring can be critical for people who may go on to develop sleep apnea. Before the current study, long-term research results concerning radiofrequency ablation of primary snoring were limited. These findings provide physicians with more information when considering treatment options.

SOURCES:
American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Science Daily, October 4, 2009

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