Is Sleep Apnea Genetic? Find the Answer
It’s only natural to wonder if you will contract a health condition if a member of your family has been diagnosed with it. So, if you grew up with a parent that has sleep apnea, you may be left thinking: “Is sleep apnea heritable?“
According to research, genetic factors that are passed down from one generation to the next are the main reason why sleep apnea does tend to run in families.
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What is Sleep Apnea?
The condition known as OSA frequently runs in families. When your muscles relax while you’re sleeping, your airway may narrow or close as you take a breath.
This may lower the amount of oxygen in your blood and wake you up from sleep so you can reopen your airway. Sleep fragmentation as a result is linked to excessive daytime sleepiness, a low quality of life, memory and concentration issues, depression, irritability, and personality changes.
Is Sleep Apnea Genetic?
Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.View Source Researchers have identified genetic factors that increase a person’s risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a type of sleep apnea in which breathing pauses are brought on by physical blockages in the airways. The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. In contrast, central sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing pauses brought on by problems with brainstem signaling, seems to be largely brought on by other, non-genetic factors.
According to studies, individuals who have a close relative who has OSA are more likely to develop the condition themselves. According to experts, genetics accounts for 40% of the variations in people’s apnea hypopnea indexes (AHI), which measure how frequently people stop breathing while sleeping.
Researchers hypothesize that there are multiple ways genetics may predispose a person to OSA:
- Body Fat Amount and Distribution: Genes impact body weightand where fat is located on your body, both of which influence whether or not a person develops OSA. People who are obese are more than 10 times as likely to have OSA.
- Face anatomy: A person’s genes greatly influence the shape of their face and skull, including the width and length of their noses and their facial depth. The width of the airway and the ease with which it can be blocked are influenced by the size and shape of the nose, the position of the jaw, and other bones.
- Breathing Control: Although there is a paucity of research on genes and breath control, experts believe that genes may affect the breathing muscles and neural signals. The likelihood of developing sleep apnea may be influenced by a person’s breathing pattern.
- Circadian Rhythm and Sleep: A person’s innate sleep schedule, quality of sleep, and likelihood of developing other sleep disorders are all influenced by their genes. Future studies should investigate how genetics impact sleep patterns and how they relate to OSA, according to researchers.
Even though researchers have been studying the genetics of sleep apnea Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.View Source for more than 20 years, relatively little is known about the precise genes connected to sleep-disordered breathing. Much more research is needed, but as of now, researchers have found evidence suggesting the following genes may be related to intermittent hypoxia or involved in OSA Trusted SourceNational Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.View Source :
- Angiopoietin-2 gene (ANGPT2)
- −308G/A polymorphism of the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα)
- Prostaglandin E2 receptor EP3 subtype (PTGER3)
- Lysophosphatidic acid receptor 1 (LPAR1)
- G-protein receptor gene (GPR83)
- β-arrestin 1 gene (ARRB1)
- Dopamine receptor D1 encoding gene (DRD1)
- Serotonin receptor encoding gene (HTR2A)
More research is needed to confirm, but genetic factors involved in OSA could partially explain why the disorder affects people of different races National Library of Medicine, Biotech InformationThe National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information differently. Genetics could also help explain why OSA is connected to so many other conditions. The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information, but related research is still in its early stages.
Three Kinds of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea, but only obstructive sleep apnea might be hereditary:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: the most common form of sleep apnea that we often associate with snoring that occurs when throat muscles relax during sleep, and there is less room to breathe
- Central Sleep Apnea: when asleep, your brain doesn’t send the right electrical impulses to your muscles telling you to breathe. Studies have shown that central sleep apnea is not inherited genetically. “There may be a genetic component to some of the underlying causes of central sleep apnea, such as specific heart conditions. There is little proof that central sleep apnea itself is hereditary, but the majority of the causes are not.”
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome(Treatment-emergent Central Sleep Apnea): occurs when you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
There are specific risk factors for OSA that, according to sleep studies, include inheriting:
- Shorter midface length
- Suffering from Brachycephaly (a flat back of head infant syndrome)
- larger than the rest of your mouth and throat, or larger than the tongue.
- Shorter maxilla bones (in the cheeks on either side of the nose)
- Length and position of your mandibles (bones in your lower jaw)
- Placement of your hyoid bones (in your throat)
As you can see, the many different ways that bones may form your face and throat shape contribute to OSA. However, there are new therapies for OSA that can help you overcome the obstacle of not getting enough sleep despite your inherited bone and tissue structures.
A good place to start is by visiting your ENT physician, who specializes in problems relating to your face and neck bones. They specialize in non-invasive procedures as well as the surgeries required to change facial features that may be causing you to have trouble sleeping.
Summary: When to Talk to Your Doctor
Schedule a consultation with your doctor if you or your child exhibit signs of sleep apnea. Snoring, fatigue during the day, headaches in the morning, difficulty focusing, and irritability are all signs of sleep apnea. A bed partner might notice choking, gasping, or breathing pauses that are noticeable. Children exhibit similar symptoms, but they may also have night sweats, bedwetting, mouth breathing, and hyperactivity.
If sleep apnea is suspected to be the disorder you are experiencing, your doctor can conduct further testing by referring you to a sleep specialist. People can alleviate their symptoms and lower their risk of developing other related disorders by having their sleep apnea properly diagnosed and treated.