It is a dangerous misconception that only overweight or obese people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, a new study has found that 52 percent of those with sleep apnea had a body mass index of below 30 (the benchmark for obesity), while a further half of those patients had normal weights.
The same study, which was conducted at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Australia, found that thinner patients suffering from sleep apnea required a different approach to treatment than overweight and obese patients.
It is vital for both those with OSA and the general public to understand that sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, of both sexes, of all ethnicities, and of all sizes. Sleep apnea patients of normal weight, in fact, may need special considerations when being diagnosed and treated.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what it is like to have obstructive sleep apnea for those who are not overweight or obese.
Getting Diagnosed With OSA Is More Difficult When Not Overweight
The misconception that all or most people with sleep apnea are obese goes beyond those in the general public. In truth, doctors and medical professionals may neglect to see the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in patients who are not overweight. Furthermore, they may not order diagnostic tests or sleep studies for those who do not fit the stereotypical profile of a sleep apnea sufferer.
For this reason, it is vital for everyone to be familiar with the red flags of sleep apnea:
- Episodes of not breathing while sleeping.
- Loud breathing while sleeping.
- Breathing through the mouth while sleeping.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Waking up not feeling rested.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Mood swings.
- Dry mouth.
- Dry throat.
Talk to your doctor if you are displaying these symptoms, or if your partner has voiced concerns about your nighttime snoring and breathing.
CPAP Therapy Is Less Effective For Thinner Patients
The aforementioned study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine this fall, not only found that the majority of those with sleep apnea are not obese, it also found that normal-weighted and overweight patients respond differently to traditional sleep apnea treatments than those who have a BMI above 30.
Specifically, the study found that of the 163 participants, those who were not obese were significantly more likely to have an adverse reaction to continuous positive air pressure (CPAP), or to not comply with CPAP usage. While researchers are still unsure of why those of lower weights had more difficulty with compliance, they believe that this new information could help people of all sizes find the right sleep apnea treatment for their needs.
Surgical Sleep Apnea Solutions
At Surgical Sleep Solutions, we understand that sleep apnea patients come in all sizes and from all backgrounds, including patients of normal weights. We also know that bimaxillary advancement surgery may be an excellent choice for those with OSA who are in good health, at a healthy weight, and who may struggle with CPAP usage. To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with a physician, please contact us today.