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Study Links Snoring to Chronic Bronchitis
Date:1/28/2008

Reasons for the association are unknown, researchers say

MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A large South Korean study found frequent snoring was associated with the development of chronic bronchitis, but the researchers themselves said they aren't sure why.

"The mechanisms underlying the association between snoring and chronic bronchitis are largely unknown," said the report, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, that was conducted by researchers at Korea University Ansan Hospital, in Ansan.

Bronchitis is inflammation of the air passages within the lungs. Acute bronchitis is often caused by an infection and goes away after treatment or on its own. Chronic bronchitis is most often caused by smoking or exposure to lung-irritating substances such as chemical fumes or dust, and does not go away quickly.

The Korean study of 4,270 individuals found that those who said they snored six to seven nights a week were 68 percent more likely to develop chronic bronchitis than those who said they never snored. The incidence of chronic bronchitis was 25 percent greater for people who snored five times a week or less.

Dr. Robert Keaton, a research fellow at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center, called the findings an interesting association, "but you can't say it's conclusive. It can't be something you can cite to tell patients in the clinic that they have chronic bronchitis because they snore."

The Korean study proposed two possible reasons for the association. One is that the vibrations caused by snoring lead to inflammation in the airways. The other is that the inflammation comes first, causing the snoring and possibly sleep apnea, in which breathing stops or becomes very shallow periodically for 10 or 20 seconds.

"It's not unusual for people with obstructive sleep apnea to have such symptoms," Keaton said. "A common cause of snoring is obstructive sl
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