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Can Sleep Apnea Be Hereditary?

September 6, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — pontevedra @ 4:04 am
Man snoring because of his sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a problem that affects millions of patients every single night; the condition can rob of you of several hours of sleep and put you at risk for quite a few different health factors! That said, you’re probably wondering what causes sleep apnea and what you can do to lower your risk for it. While there are a lot of different things that contribute towards sleep apnea, it’s important to note the link it shares with your genes! Here’s more from your dentist about this connection along with some ways that you can lower your risk of sleep apnea.

What Genetic Factors Contribute to Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition that’s marked by repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night. This is caused by blockage in the airway due to the soft tissues of the mouth and throat collapsing, which can stem from a variety of different reasons including health and lifestyle factors. However, some of these reasons are also hereditary! A few ways that your genes can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea:

  • Body fat – Genes can greatly impact your body weight and where fat is located on your body, both of which can influence a person’s likelihood of developing sleep apnea. People who are obese are roughly ten times more likely to suffer from OSA.
  • Facial and airway anatomy – Your genes also affect the shape of your face, including skull width, nose length and width, and facial depth. The size and shape of your nose, along with the placement of your jaw, impact how wide the airway is—which in turn influences how easily it can become blocked.
  • Sleep and circadian rhythm – Your innate sleep schedule is also influenced by your genes, as well as how well you sleep.
  • Breathing control – Research on genes and breath control is still somewhat lacking, but experts suspect that genetics might influence the muscles and neural signals involved in breathing.

Can I Lower My Risk of Sleep Apnea?

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lower your risk of developing sleep apnea—despite what your genes might have to say about it! Consider the following:

  • Try to maintain a healthy body weight by eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise.
  • Make other lifestyle choices that promote healthy breathing during sleep, such as not drinking alcohol in excess before bedtime, or smoking and using tobacco products. You might also consider sleeping on your side rather than your back.
  • Be mindful of other potential sources of sleep disruption such as light entering the room, warmer temperatures, pet dandruff, and more.
  • If you suffer from dental misalignment, oral appliance therapy can assist with correcting your jaw’s position, which will result in better airflow.

Even though your genes can influence your chances of developing sleep apnea, there are still measures you can take to mitigate its symptoms. That said, don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist about other possible solutions for managing your sleep apnea.

About the Practice

Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry has proudly served the dental needs of the Ponte Vedra Beach area for several years. The practice is fortune to house two skilled specialists: Dr. Kristopher R. Harth and Dr. Eric L. Townsend. They’re proud to offer a wide range of services including sleep apnea therapy. If you have any concerns about sleep apnea or would like to arrange an appointment, you can contact the practice online or over the phone: (904) 285-7711.

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