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Snoring/Upper airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome

Obstructive breathing in sleep can vary greatly in severity from very mild snoring of minimal consequence to severe stoppages in breathing leading to drops in the blood oxygen level and disruption of sleep.


Snoring is the sound emitted from the upper airway of your throat during sleep and comes from loose, relaxed tissues that vibrate while breathing. The sound emitted may come from the soft palate, tongue or both. Snoring is an indication that there is resistance through the airway. The sound intensity varies from person to person and is commonly described as a nuisance by a bed partner. Snoring may be an indicator of a serious health condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Approximately one out of every two snorers will develop this condition. Although snoring is an indicator for sleep apnea, it is not necessarily experienced by all patients with this disorder.

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome

When the snoring and resistance through the airway is significant enough to disrupt the quality of sleep, we call this disorder "Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome" or UARS. In patients with UARS, the sleep quality is generally disrupted to the point of causing clinical consequences such as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep (insomnia), non-refreshing sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. Because of the very brief nature of the many arousals triggered by snoring, patients with UARS are typically unaware of these awakenings and generally do not know that they may be snoring if it were not for the witnessed reports from a bed partner or family member.

It is also important to note that not all patients with UARS have audible snoring. Some patients may have an increase in respiratory effort during inhalation or inspiration because of an anatomical limitation to the airway such as from an enlarged tongue base, which may be heard as “heavy breathing” instead of snoring. The increased effort to inhale can lead to EEG (brain wave) arousals and has been referred to in the sleep medicine field as "respiratory effort-related arousals" (RERAs). For this reason, an absence of snoring does not imply an absence of obstructive breathing in sleep. Such individuals, however, may have other symptoms such as a dry mouth upon awakening, morning headaches, symptoms of insomnia or daytime sleepiness.

Dr. Tamez agrees with the prevailing literature in that no snoring is "benign" . Let him help your entire family lead a happier healthier life.