Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a common sleep disorder that leads to significant morbidity and mortality without adequate treatment. Though much emphasis on the pathogenesis of OSAS has been placed on a narrow upper airway space and associated muscular factors, possible neuropathy of the upper airway has not been fully elucidated. Increasing peer reviewed evidence suggests involvement of neurologic lesions of the upper airway in OSAS patients.In this article, we review the etiology and pathophysiology of OSAS, the evidence and possible mechanisms leading to upper airway neuropathy, and the relationship between upper airway neuropathy and OSAS. Further studies should focus on the long term effects of the upper airway neuropathy as related to the duration and severity of snoring and or apnea, and also on the potential methods of prevention and management of the neuropathy in sleep disordered breathing.
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