Is Sleep Apnea Genetic Or Health Related?

Is Sleep Apnea Genetic Or Health Related?

One of the first things a doctor asks a patient to share at a doctor's appointment is their family health history. Certain health conditions are hereditary, which means that family members have a greater risk of also being diagnosed with the same condition. If a family member is diagnosed with sleep apnea, your patients may begin questioning whether or not sleep apnea is caused by genetics or health conditions. 

To provide individuals with peace of mind, ApneaMed has put together a quick resource explaining if sleep apnea is hereditary or caused by other health conditions.

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the individual to experience breathing disruptions throughout the night while they sleep. These breathing disruptions occur due to the soft tissues in the individual’s throat collapsing and causing a blockage in their airway. When the airway becomes blocked, the individual often chokes, snores, or gasps for air while sleeping in an attempt to reopen the airway.

Obstructive sleep apnea isn’t always hereditary and is often brought on by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and health factors. While health factors tend to be the most common cause of sleep apnea, there can be hereditary if the sleep apnea occurs due to the specific shape of the individual’s jaw or airway passed on through genetics.

Genetic Factors That Contribute to Hereditary Sleep Apnea

As mentioned, a few genetic factors can be inherited that put an individual at a greater risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. These genetic factors include:

  • Large tonsils – Because sleep apnea is often a result of a blockage in the airway, individuals are more likely to experience the blockage if they have large tonsils. If a parent has large tonsils, there is a chance that they are passed on to their children, which can cause childhood sleep apnea.
  • Obesity – Sleep apnea is most common in overweight patients due to the excess weight on their neck, making it more likely that their throat tissue will collapse. When one or more parents or blood relatives are obese, an individual’s predisposition to obesity is high, leading to obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Hyperthyroidism – Hypothyroidism has hereditary links that cause the condition to be inherited by a parent. Because the disease can cause pressure on the individual’s airway, the patient is at risk of experiencing sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Small lower jaw – A small lower jaw can make it more difficult for a patient to breathe throughout the night, causing them to experience a blockage in their airway and disrupting their sleep quality. Jaw shape and size can be inherited through genetics.

  • These are a few of the hereditary traits that can result in a patient experiencing obstructive sleep apnea.

    The Importance of Sleep Apnea Testing

    If a patient exhibits sleep apnea symptoms, they should receive a sleep assessment to get the necessary treatment to relieve some of their symptoms — allowing them to get a good night’s sleep.

    A home sleep study is more affordable and less time-consuming than a standard sleep study. The individual will receive the home sleep test and instructions on administering an overnight unattended sleep study. While sleeping, the device will record the patient’s blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, and how often their body moves blood oxygen saturation.

    Following the self-administered test, the results will be analyzed by one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians. They will provide a recommended treatment for sleep apnea, such as an automatic positive airway pressure machine, otherwise known as APAP. 

    Contact our team to learn more if you have any questions about ApneaMeds’ at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment.

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