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Do Your Genetics Increase Your Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a surprisingly common sleep disorder that affects millions of people in the United States. As with many other medical issues, there are a variety of factors that could make you more likely to develop this condition — some that are within your control, and others that are not.

Notably, genetics can also play a role in your risk for sleep apnea. Understanding how your own family history could be affecting your sleep will help you seek appropriate medical guidance and treatment so you can enjoy higher-quality sleep.

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?


When asking whether or not sleep apnea is hereditary, it’s first important to understand the differences between the two main types of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing when the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the breathing muscles. Generally speaking, central sleep apnea is not believed to be hereditary. Instead, it is related to conditions such as heart disease, Cheyne-Stokes breathing, and the use of certain medications.

Obstructive sleep apnea results in interrupted breathing when the muscles in the back of the throat close off, blocking the flow of air — and for this type of sleep apnea, research has confirmed that genetics play a role. In fact, genetics are believed to account for 40 percent of a person’s risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Quite simply, the more relatives you have with obstructive sleep apnea, the more likely you are to develop it yourself.

It is also worth noting that there are several inherited traits that could increase your sleep apnea risk. For example, some people are more genetically inclined to be overweight — a key risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea. Physical traits such as a thicker neck, small lower jaw, or large tonsils are frequently “inherited” from family, and also increase the risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Other Non-Controllable Risk Factors

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In addition to your family history, there are other known risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea that are beyond your control. For example, men have been found to have a higher risk for this condition than women. However, women who are going through menopause become more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea as well.

Regardless of gender and other risk factors, the risk for obstructive sleep apnea increases as you age. Certain health conditions have also been found to increase one’s risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea, including recurring nasal congestion and hypothyroidism.

Medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure often occur in tandem with obstructive sleep apnea. If you have one of these conditions, your risk for sleep apnea is higher than that of an otherwise healthy person.

If you have any of these risk factors, you should pay close attention to potential sleep apnea symptoms. If your partner notices you snoring, choking or gasping in your sleep, you are likely experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals with sleep apnea often experience extreme daytime fatigue, morning headaches, trouble concentrating, irritability, and an increased risk for anxiety and depression.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors You Can Control

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While you can’t control your genetics, it’s important to remember that your chance of developing sleep apnea is largely dictated by environmental and lifestyle choices that are within your control. Making healthy changes can lower your sleep apnea risk.

For example, obesity has been found to be one of the biggest contributors to obstructive sleep apnea. Excess fatty tissue greatly increases the likelihood of having your airways blocked during sleep. While some elements of excess weight gain are genetic, you can still take steps to maintain a healthy weight by exercising and eating a well-balanced diet.

The use of tobacco, as well as alcohol or sedatives, is also known to increase sleep apnea risk by inflaming the throat muscles and causing them to become more relaxed during sleep. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of sleep apnea, lung cancer, and other problematic conditions. Avoiding alcohol and sedatives, particularly before bed, is also a good idea for individuals with elevated sleep apnea risk.

Interestingly, sleep deprivation can also increase sleep apnea risk. As you become more exhausted, your throat muscles are more likely to collapse during sleep. Taking steps to improve your sleep quality, such as by eliminating sources of light and noise in the bedroom and following a set bedtime routine, can help you get enough sleep so you feel rested in the morning.

Get the Help You Need From No Insurance Medical Supplies

While you can’t always control the risk factors for sleep apnea, you can control how you address any sleep quality issues in your life. If a sleep study reveals that you are struggling with this disorder, a CPAP machine will quickly become essential in your life. By providing a steady flow of pressurized air, a CPAP machine will keep your breathing passages from collapsing, ensuring that you enjoy uninterrupted sleep throughout the night.

Though this medical equipment can be expensive—particularly if you don’t have insurance coverage—it becomes much more manageable with the help of No Insurance Medical Supplies. Offering discounted prices on a wide range of quality CPAP machines and equipment, we make it easy to get the care you need at a price you can afford. Financing is also available to break your purchase into more affordable monthly payments.

No matter what your health history looks like, better sleep is possible. Getting the quality sleep you deserve with the help of a CPAP machine will completely transform your overall wellness.


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