An overnight sleep test is required to distinguish ordinary snorers from persons with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), according to a study in the current issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery.
Alfred Dreher, M.D., of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany and colleagues assessed the predictive power of medical history and routine physical examination as performed by an ENT specialist to identify OSAS in patients seeking treatment for snoring. The researchers evaluated 101 patients who came to an ENT clinic complaining of snoring using a routine examination, consisting of a medical history and an assessment of the anatomy of four points in their nose and throat, on a scale of zero to three and a test of the degree of obstruction in the throat. The patients were then also evaluated using standard polysomnography over the course of two nights.
Snoring is one of the main symptoms of OSAS, but while 30 to 50 percent of the general population snores, only 2 to 4 percent have OSAS, according to background information in the article. The otorhinolaryngologic (ENT: ear, nose and throat physician) specialist must distinguish between these two entities to provide appropriate treatment. The current methods for diagnosing OSAS are the measure of oxygen saturation and airflow or polysomnography, an overnight test to evaluate sleep disorders which includes simultaneous monitoring of a number of parameters including the patient's airflow through the nose and mouth, snoring, oxygen saturation, electroencephalogram (recording of the electrical activity of the brain), and body position. Although polysomnography is considered the gold standard for diagnosis of OSAS, the authors note, both of these current techniques are cumbersome.