DNA strands

Sleep Apnea and Genetic Problems

Where does sleep apnea come from? Many researchers have suggested that the condition may be genetic. Yet others argue lifestyle and environmental factors play a role in the sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop off and on throughout the night, disrupting normal sleep patterns, which can lead to health problems.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: caused by relaxation of the throat muscles and a closing of the airway
  • Central sleep apnea:  caused by failure of the brain to send proper signals that control breathing

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Research sees many reasons for sleep apnea, including a hereditary element as well as lifestyle and environmental factors. Most sleep apnea patients must look at a combination of factors when seeking treatment.

 Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is about 40% attributable to genetics.1 The good news is that because lifestyle and environmental factors play a larger role sleep apnea patients have more control over treating their condition.

 Is Central Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

While OSA has a small genetic component, there is no evidence that central sleep apnea is hereditary.

The Risk Factors for a Developing Sleep Apnea

While genetics play a lesser role in the development of sleep apnea, there are still factors that increase the possibility of getting either OSA or central sleep apnea. Being male and getting older are primary risk factors for both types of sleep apnea.

The Risk Factors for a Developing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

OSA has its own risk factors, which are often attributed to lifestyle. They include:

  • Obesity
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Smoking

The Risk Factors of a Developing Central Sleep Apnea

The risk factors for central sleep apnea tend to be related to heart health. Those with congestive heart failure or other heart issues as well as those who have had a stroke may develop central sleep apnea.

Is Infant Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Because infants do not experience the lifestyle issues of adults, how is it possible for them to develop sleep apnea? While a genetic cause is not clearly defined, it is suspected by researchers that other factors related to birth may contribute to infant sleep apnea including:

  • A premature birth
  • An underdeveloped brain at birth
  • An unrelated medical condition at birth

Symptoms of Infant Sleep Apnea

If you notice that your baby tends to temporarily stop breathing while he or she is asleep, it may be a sign of infant sleep apnea. Also look for a slower heart rate and bluish skin around the lips.

When to See a Doctor for a Developing Sleep Apnea

If you notice some of the red flags for sleep apnea, you should see your doctor right away. Symptoms include:

  • Waking up gasping for air in the middle of the night
  • Loud snoring
  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Poor concentration or poor memory
  • Frequent morning headaches

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Doctors will diagnose sleep apnea using a sleep study. In a sleep study, you spend the night in a lab monitored by equipment that analyzes your sleep patterns. The results will determine a sleep apnea diagnosis.

Fortunately, there is a simpler way to get a sleep apnea diagnosis. Many patients are using home sleep tests to determine if they have sleep apnea. Home sleep tests are just as accurate as in-lab tests, but they are more convenient, as they can be conducted in the comfort of your own home. Sleep Care Online offers affordable, easy, and accurate tests to help you identify your sleep disorder. Sleep Care tests are FDA-approved and come with unlimited support from our team.  Plus, we’ll ship them free to your home.

Best Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, our sleep specialists will recommend treatment options.

Sleep apnea is commonly treated using CPAP machines which use pressurized to keep the airway open while asleep. You can find a machine that fits your prescription from leading manufacturers at The CPAP Shop. Our staff is ready to assist you with your online purchase. We provide free shipping on orders over $99 and offer a full refund if you are not satisfied.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.