An evidence-based approach to the management of snoring in adults

Clin Otolaryngol. 2015 Apr;40(2):79-85. doi: 10.1111/coa.12341.


Background: Snoring is frequently encountered by the otolaryngologist. Given its significant impact on quality of life and that it is a symptom of sleep-related breathing disorders, diagnosis and treatment are of major importance. In particular, the diagnosis should aim to distinguish between simple snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. This article aims to provide a systematic, concise and evidence-based method of managing the adult patient with snoring.

Method: This review was based on a literature search last undertaken on 30 June 2014. The MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases were searched using the subject headings snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea in adults in combination with classification, diagnosis, investigations, management, treatment and surgery. Results were limited to English language articles including case series, clinical trials, randomised controlled trials, meta-analyses, systematic reviews and review articles. Relevant references from selected articles were also reviewed.

Results: The majority of published literature for snoring is of level II/III evidence and that for obstructive sleep apnoea being of level I/II, with 36 relevant randomised controlled trials identified. The diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea involves thorough clinical assessment and typically a sleep study. Snoring may be managed with lifestyle modification, intra-oral devices or by surgical intervention, with continuous positive airway pressure being the treatment of choice for moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnoea.

Conclusions: A structured history of snoring and its associated symptoms, comprehensive examination including flexible laryngoscopy and sleep studies where relevant, in addition to targeted investigations, should lead to the correct diagnosis and appropriate management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Snoring / diagnosis
  • Snoring / etiology*
  • Snoring / therapy