Oct. 19, 1998 Snoring is on the increase among men but the prevalence drops after they reach ages 50 to 60, according to a large study of 2,668 Swedish males, published in the October issue of CHEST.
In an article in the monthly peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), Eva Lindberg, M.D. of the Department of Lung Medicine, Uppsala University, Sweden, along with five associates, compared two sets of data on snoring in men over a ten year period.
In 1984, 3,201 Swedish men, ages 30 to 69, answered a questionnaire on snoring. Of the 2,975 survivors in 1994, almost 90 percent answered a new questionnaire with identical questions as well as additional questions on smoking habits, alcohol use, and physical activity.
Among the men, habitual snoring increased over the 10 years from 15 percent in 1984 to 20.4 percent in 1994.
Although the problem was considered only as a social nuisance as recently as 30 years ago, snoring is now regarded as being linked to sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness, work performance, morning headaches, and other health related conditions.
Among men ages 30 to 49, the predictors of habitual snoring by the year 1994 proved to be persistent smoking and weight gain. Among men 50 to 69 years, weight gain was the only significant risk factor for developing habitual snoring after adjustments for previous snoring status and age.
According to the study, although an increase in body mass index was a significant predictor of habitual snoring, changes in weight had to be substantial. "Also, we found increasing prevalence of snoring as men grew older, followed by a decrease after 50 to 60," said Dr. Lindberg. "Snoring is most pronounced during slow wave sleep. As a person ages, the proportion of nocturnal sleep spent in the slow wave stage decreases. This might contribute to the decline in snoring prevalence seen at older ages."
Dr. Lindberg also noted that "the results of our study indicate that changes in snoring status are influenced by smoking mainly among younger men. Moreover, quitting smoking leads to a decrease in snoring only if the former smoker can avoid gaining too much weight."
The researchers also found no significant association between physical activity or alcohol dependence and snoring. In addition, they note that snoring is mainly influenced by the nightime use of alcohol a point which was not covered in the survey questions.
To assess the prevalence of snoring, the men were asked to note the frequency of "loud and disturbing snoring" using a five-point scale. The men who scored one (never) and two (seldom) were classified as non-snorers; and those with scores of three (sometimes) and four (often) were regarded as habitual snorers.
Among the entire group of 2,668 men surveyed, 77 percent (2,031) reported that they usually hared a bedroom with "another person," a point which did not significantly influence any of the risk factors of the study.
CHEST is the official journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) which represents 15,000 members who provide clinical respiratory and cardiothoracic patient care in the U.S. and throughout the world.
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