Can Thin People Still Have Sleep Apnea?

Can Thin People Still Have Sleep Apnea?

Even though the phrase “sleep apnea” is now relatively widely recognized by the general public, much confusion still exists about exactly what sleep apnea is, who is at risk, whether it only affects people who are overweight or obese and how it is treated.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or you suspect a loved one may be showing signs of the disorder, this article will equip you with sufficient basic information to seek appropriate medical consultation and care with Dr. Jamali.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is not just one single disorder, but actually encompasses a range of symptoms that can extend from mild to severe. At its mildest level, sleep apnea may go undetected for many years. At its most severe, sleep apnea is a known killer.

What Are the Types of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea takes on two main forms: obstructive and central.


This type of sleep apnea is the most common type and basically is caused when the airway gets blocked. Often, this is caused when the soft tissue at the back of the soft palate and throat collapses and blocks the airway.


This type of sleep apnea is less common and occurs when the signals from the brain to the autonomic (automatic) respiratory muscles don’t transmit and breathing ceases.

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

The most common sleep apnea symptoms include the following:

  • Snoring loudly at night.
  • Waking suddenly but not knowing why.
  • Not feeling rested even after a full night’s sleep.
  • Having a sore throat or dry mouth in the morning.
  • Feeling drowsy, irritable or foggy during the day.
  • Headaches in the morning.
  • Mood changes.
  • Decreased libido.

Other symptoms may be present as well, and with central sleep apnea, usually there is no snoring, so it can be harder to detect.

Who Is At Risk for Sleep Apnea?

There are some known risk factors that make some people more prone to developing sleep apnea. However, no list of risk factors can fully encompass every person who may develop sleep apnea, which is important to keep in mind when seeking medical care with Dr. Jamali for suspected sleep apnea.

The best known risk factors that may predispose someone to develop sleep apnea include these:

  • A family history of sleep apnea.
  • Issues with overweight or obesity.
  • Being male.
  • Being over age 40.
  • Having a wider neck circumference.
  • Having large tonsils or a lot of soft tissue in the soft palate area.
  • Having a smaller jaw and larger tongue.
  • A prior diagnosis of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux).
  • A prior diagnosis of a deviated septum or other sinus issues.
  • Continual struggles with respiratory allergy symptoms.

What Does Weight Have To Do With Sleep Apnea?

As it turns out, being overweight or obese is not as significant a predictor of who may develop sleep apnea as was previously believed. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) state that, of the millions of people who currently suffer from sleep apnea, as many as 90 percent of these may be unaware of their condition.

Part of this is because many people who are otherwise thin don’t think they could possible develop sleep apnea. As well, since the disorder is more common in men, thin women are less likely to consider they may possibly have sleep apnea, even if symptoms are a match.

Children can also develop sleep apnea, regardless of their body weight. For this reason, the best approach is always to seek medical consultation with Dr. Jamali for a medical diagnosis rather than trying to self-diagnose based on common symptoms of sleep apnea alone.

What Treatments Are Available For Sleep Apnea?

The available treatments for sleep apnea are typically tailored to the type and severity of symptoms as well as the type of sleep apnea diagnosed (obstructive or central).

Mild cases of sleep apnea can respond well to lifestyle changes and the addition of a night-time breathing aid such as a CPAP, VPAP or Nasal EPAP machine. Lifestyle changes typically include ceasing smoking, changing sleep positions, steering clear of sleeping pills and alcohol and not sleeping on a flat back.

For more severe or life-threatening cases of sleep apnea, one of the best treatments is jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery. Orthognathic surgery, which is one of Dr. Jamali’s areas of particular expertise, can realign and reconstruct the jaw to eliminate obstructions contributing to sleep apnea symptoms.

As needed, additional corrections can be made during jaw surgery as follows:

  • Correct a deviated septum.
  • Clear out and enlarge sinus passages.
  • Remove some soft tissue from the soft palate area.
  • Correction of an overbite, underbite, or bite malocclusion.

Typically, orthognathic surgery can ease or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms in the case of obstructive type sleep apnea. For cases of central sleep apnea, it may be necessary to take a different approach since this type is not caused by obstruction of the airway passages.

About Dr. Jamali

Dr. Jamali practices in New York City, NY. He holds a board certification to practice as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and is recognized as a Real Self Top Doctor. Dr. Jamali graduated from the prestigious Tufts University (doctorate degree) and then completed his residency at Kings County Hospital Center, which is well-known as one of the nation’s largest Level One trauma centers.

Dr. Jamali also completed a fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital, where he studied Orthagnothic Surgery to pursue his passion for facial reconstructive surgery. Today, in addition to his busy practice and surgical schedule, Dr. Jamali continues his education and research into the latest cutting-edge medical practices in anesthesiology, general surgery, trauma, plastic surgery, ontolaryngology and orthognathic surgery.

To schedule your consultation with Dr. Jamali at his New York City, NY, office, contact us at 212-480-2777 or visit us online at

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The post Can Thin People Still Have Sleep Apnea? appeared first on Sleep Apnea Surgery.

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Author: Martin Olivos

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