Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Have you ever wondered if you’re perhaps genetically predisposed to develop sleep apnea? Perhaps your father, grandfather, or another family member snores and has experienced negative health effects as a result of sleep apnea. You might be concerned that you will develop the condition as well, and likely are wondering what you can do to treat it.

While it is possible that your genetics place you at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, there is never a guarantee that you will experience it at some point in your life. Rather, the traits you’ve inherited from your family members will likely impact whether or not you experience this and other sleep issues. Some traits include:

  • A family history of obesity
  • Allergies, asthma, or other breathing problems
  • Upper airway tissue problems

Also, studies have shown that individuals in specific ethnic groups might be predisposed to sleep apnea. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people of Hispanic, African, and Pacific Islander heritage are more likely to develop sleep apnea than individuals in other ethnic groups.

Inherited Physical Characteristics Can Play a Role

While sleep disorders like sleep apnea themselves might not be inherited, the physical characteristics that your family passes down could play a significant part. For example, people with the following physical traits are more likely to develop sleep apnea:

  • Narrow nostrils, sinuses, or nasal passages
  • Receding chin
  • Overbite
  • Small jawline
  • Oversized tonsils, uvula, or tongue
  • High and narrow arch of the palate

If these physical characteristics run in your family, you could be at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea at some point in your life. If sleep apnea runs in your family, don’t stress about it too much. Just because your grandfather suffered from it is not a guarantee that you will as well.

Instead, you should pay attention to environmental and lifestyle factors that you can control, like eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. By staying healthy, you can reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea and many other chronic illnesses that you could potentially be genetically predisposed to.

Are You Suffering From Sleep Apnea? We Can Help

If you suffer from sleep apnea, don’t despair. While you might be genetically predisposed to developing this disorder, it is treatable. The OSA experts at Silent Night Therapy have helped countless people just like you find solutions that will help them get a restful night’s sleep. Contact Dr. Brown and our OSA team at (631) 983-2463 to discuss how we can help you today.