Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Sleep apnea can be caused by multiple factors—many of which are hereditary. Factors that are inherited through generations greatly impact your risk of sleep apnea. If your family has a family of sleep apnea and you are exhibiting symptoms, discuss it with your doctor.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, sleepiness after a full night of sleep, headaches, waking up with a dry throat, restless sleep, forgetfulness, mood changes, decrease in sex drive, depression, and lack of energy. Sleep apnea affects your sleep and therefore affects other areas of your life. You may notice sleepiness throughout the day and tossing and turning during the night. This could be a result of sleep apnea. Your sleep may also be interrupted by waking up choking or gasping for air. If you are noticing any of these symptoms, consult with your doctor to determine if you could have a form of sleep apnea. Be particularly wary if you have a family history of sleep apnea.

The Role of Genetics in Sleep Apnea

Physical traits that are inherited genetically can impact sleep apnea. The shape of your face, the shape of your skull, and the size of your jaw can all factor in. Other characteristics such as your upper airway and body fat distribution and percentage can also factor into your risk for sleep apnea.

Snoring, one of the most common tells of sleep apnea is caused by vibrations in the upper airways as air is breathed in and out during sleep. These parts of the airway vibrate because of relaxed tissues in the mouth and throat. Snoring has been proven to be hereditary, mainly because the makeup of a person’s airway is due to genetics. If your parents snore, you are more likely to develop the habit.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep. It is not one size fits all. There are three different kinds—central sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form. This occurs when during sleep the soft tissues and muscles of the mouth and throat collapse, resulting in a blockage in the person’s airway. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing, causing breathing to start and stop during sleep.

There are multiple treatment options for sleep apnea. The most common is the CPAP mask which will help you breathe in your sleep. Another more permanent option is surgery.

If you’re interested in taking care of your sleep apnea through surgery, come see one of our expert surgeons at Oral and Facial Surgery of Utah. Come in for a consultation to see what your options are! We are dedicated to ensuring your safety and comfort throughout the entire process. Come see us today to get started.