Swallowing dysfunction related to snoring: a videoradiographic study

Acta Otolaryngol. 2000 Mar;120(3):438-43. doi: 10.1080/000164800750000702.


Biopsy studies of the soft palatal and oropharyngeal tissues in habitual snorers and patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea have shown signs of neurogenic lesions. These lesions might affect the pharyngeal swallowing function, which is dependent on adequate sensitivity. The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that snoring is associated with aberrant pharyngeal swallowing function. Forty-one consecutive patients without dysphagia, seeking medical attention because of heavy snoring and various degrees of daytime sleepiness, were prospectively selected. Fifteen non-snoring volunteers without dysphagia served as controls. Patients and volunteers were videoradiographically examined in lateral and posteroanterior views during the oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing. The hypothesis was verified. Snoring patients demonstrated deviant pharyngeal swallowing function seven times more frequently than did the non-snoring volunteers. Deviant pharyngeal swallowing function was observed in 22 (54%) of the snorers compared with 1 (7%) of the non-snoring volunteers. Impaired bolus control with premature leakage of bolus into the pharynx and a delayed evocation of the swallowing reflex was the most common finding, followed by bolus residual in the pharynx and laryngeal penetration. The conclusion was that snoring is associated with subclinical pharyngeal swallowing dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharynx / pathology
  • Palate, Soft / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Snoring / complications*
  • Snoring / diagnosis
  • Videotape Recording