Is sleep apnea hereditary?

While there are many factors that can put someone at risk for sleep apnea, there is a strong possibility that sleep apnea can be hereditary. If you have a serious condition like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or an endocrine or metabolic disorder, there is a significant chance that you may also be suffering from sleep apnea. Even lifestyle factors like smoking and using alcohol or sedatives or opioids can increase the risk of sleep apnea.

However, a family history of this serious condition is also something you want to discuss with your doctor, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea like loud snoring, lack of energy, daytime sleepiness (even after a full night’s sleep), morning headaches or depression. Genetically inherited physical traits like your face and skull shape, characteristics of your upper airway muscles, and body fat content and distribution could all contribute to whether or not you are more prone to suffer from sleep apnea.

Most people tend to associate a high body mass index (BMI) – your height to weight ratio – with sleep apnea. While obesity is a condition associated with sleep apnea, people who are fit can also suffer from it. In fact, many people can suffer from sleep apnea – men and women, older people and even children. Children can exhibit some of the same symptoms as adults, like habitual snoring, noisy breathing, chronic mouth breathing, restless sleep and lethargy or sleepiness.

Having a family member with sleep apnea could increase your chance of developing or having the disorder. It is also important to understand and be aware of the symptoms. Taking a sleep quiz is a great way to get started and see whether or not you may be at risk for sleep apnea.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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