From your physical traits to your risk for developing various diseases or disorders, genetics plays a huge role in your appearance and your health. Because we treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder, we often get asked if sleep apnea is genetic. The answer? It can be!
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can cause interrupted breathing throughout the night. Some people with sleep apnea stop breathing hundreds of times while asleep as their throat partially or completely closes. Without treatment, sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, headaches, depression, and more. It can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Genetics
We inherit more than just our eye color from our parents. Characteristics like jaw size, a recessed chin, larger tonsils, and an overbite can also be inherited. Each of these factors can make it more likely that you develop obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, some doctors estimate that having a parent with sleep apnea increases your own risk for sleep apnea by 50 percent.
Why Do Certain Characteristics Make Sleep Apnea More Likely?
The inherited features listed above can all cause you to be at risk for sleep apnea. They can make it more likely that the muscles at the back of your throat relax while you sleep, blocking your airway and leading to stops and starts in breathing.
How Do We Treat Sleep Apnea?
Because the symptoms of sleep apnea can have severe health consequences, it is important to diagnose and treat sleep apnea as early as possible. At Sleep Easy Dentistry, a customized oral appliance known as a mandibular advancement device to treat our patients with sleep apnea. Instead of needing to lug around a complicated and bulky CPAP machine, this appliance fits snugly around teeth while you sleep to gently shift your jaw into a position that keeps your airway open.
Keep in mind that just because you have a parent with sleep apnea does not mean that you have sleep apnea. However, if you do have a parent with sleep apnea and some of the symptoms listed above sound like you, our team can help you get some answers. To schedule a free consultation or ask us any questions, call us today!