is sleep apnea hereditary

Is Obstuctive Sleep Apnea Hereditary? Symptoms & Treatments

Is Obstuctive Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Obstuctive sleep apnea involves disruptive breathing patterns (i.e. shallow breaths) during sleep. This pattern is sustained and prolonged leading to several symptoms.

This is a problem which is estimated to affect millions of people around the world. With the airway being clogged up, a person can have spurts of blocked breath reaching up to a minute in duration.

A patient suffering from sleep apnea can be prone to 30+ experiences in an hour while sleeping. This read will assess this disorder and whether sleep apnea is hereditary.

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What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in the same order as sleep paralysis, narcolepsy and can range from mild to severe.

Obstructive sleep apnea is actually a serious and common sleep disorder that causes you to cease breathing during sleep.

The airway continuously gets impeded, limiting the level of atmosphere that actually reaches your respiratory system.

At these times, you could possibly snore loudly or creating choking disturbances as you may make an effort to inhale and exhale. Your brain and body becomes air deprived and you might get out of bed.

This may happen once or twice an evening, or perhaps in much more serious circumstances, up to 100's of instances throughout your sleep.


Beginning with symptoms, a patient will showcase several during their sleeping session. Patients with severe apnea are often startled and wake up in a state of panic.

Let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms:

  • Morning Headaches
  • Waking Up With Sore Throat
  • General Fatigue During The Day
  • Restless Sleep
  • Waking Up With Choking Feeling
  • Significant Mood Changes During The Day
  • Loud Snoring

These are all symptoms a person with sleep apnea will display. Some will have a severe case where these symptoms are extravagant, while others will have timid symptoms.

It’s best to have it diagnosed effective immediately.

Side Effects

Sleep apnea also has some very serious and much more disturbing side effects than the usual issues mentioned.

These can include, but are not limited to:​

sleep apnea side effects

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What are some of the causes of sleep apnea?

Why do some people have it and others don’t? Is it inherited and can it be passed down generations?

As the heart of this read will be looking at the question “is sleep apnea hereditary?”, it’s best to assess the leading causes according to medical studies.

Here is a list of sleep apnea causes highlighted by medical experts:

  • Relaxation Of Throat Muscles
  • Airways Closing Unnaturally
  • Being Overweight
  • Neck Circumference Greater Than 15 Inches
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Smoking
  • Genetic Disposition

All of these causes can shape one’s proneness to sleep apnea. This doesn’t mean a person has to initiate all causes to have sleep apnea.

Even one of these causes is enough to cause trouble.

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Is sleep apnea hereditary?

This brings the subject back to the central question, “is sleep apnea hereditary?” and the answer is some cases.

Sleep apnea as a disorder is not solely genetically predisposed. A person with these genes does not have to display signs of sleep apnea nor does a person without said genes can remain symptom-free.

Hereditary causes are not binding with sleep apnea and are just one of the causes listed.

A study completed in “Sleep Medicine Review” journal displayed 40% of all sleep apnea patients tested having familial factors causing their symptoms.

This particular factor was named apnea hypopnea index, which enabled a person with this genetic predisposition to have such symptoms.

Further studies have shown distinct racial backgrounds to have a greater likelihood for sleep apnea.

These include Pacific Islanders, Hispanic, and Black individuals.


What is the treatment for those who are suffering from sleep apnea and have had it diagnosed? What will a sleep specialist recommend in such cases?

Sleep apnea will be diagnosed after an overnight sleep test is run on the patient.

This is done in an organized manner to assess how a patient sleeps and the amount of “disruptions” they have during a set sleeping session.

Milder cases will be recommended the first step options. A simple lifestyle change can be enough to cease all issues.

For severe cases, a mask is provided for sleep. This is called EPAP which will regulate air pressure going into the lungs as one sleeps.

There are variations of this mask including EPAP which provides additional pressure and is stronger, BiPAP which provides more pressure during inhaling and less while exhaling.

For those who want a simpler solution, oral appliances are provided so one can sleep with their mouth open and not constricted.

Severe cases with no long-term solution might require jaw reconstruction surgery or tissue removal. This will depend on each specific case and what the diagnosis is.


This is all one needs to know about obstructive sleep apnea and whether it is hereditary or not. This is one of the most troubling disorders a person can have, but one that can be treated with attention to detail.

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