Is sleep apnea genetic? Can a person’s genes cause the development of sleep apnea? You can find out the answers to these questions if you continue reading the article. Meanwhile, if you are already experiencing sleep apnea, you can visit Sleepclinicmelbourne.com.au and book an appointment with them. They can offer you services to work on with your sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition wherein a person experiences a brief stoppage in breathing while sleeping. However, this breathing disorder can repeatedly stop and start. In this case, if you have loud snores then feel tired even after a long night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Often people think that exercising before sleep can make them fall asleep easier but exercising is not directly affecting apnea.
Sleep apnea has three main types, which differ according to how it affects the person. Let us differentiate them more to understand them fully.
1. Obstructive sleep apnea
It is the most common type of sleep apnea. Your throat muscles tend to relax with obstructive sleep apnea, which either partially or fully closes your throat. As a result, it can block your air passage while you sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.
Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
- excess weight
- neck circumference
- family history
- nasal congestion
- medical conditions
- narrow airway
2. Central sleep apnea
This type of sleep apnea occurs when your brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. In obstructive sleep apnea, it will physically block your breathing. Central sleep apnea usually occurs if a person has a severe illness. This illness can significantly affect the lower brainstem that controls breathing.
Causes of central sleep apnea
- being a male
- heart disorders
- usage of narcotic pain medications
3. Complex sleep apnea
This condition happens when an individual has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. You can also hear them call this mixed apnea. Usually, it begins with central apnea then ends with obstructive sleep apnea.
Is sleep apnea genetic?
As shown above, we have mentioned family history as one of the causes of sleep apnea. Aside from that, there are also health conditions mentioned above that have a genetic component, such as heart disorders.
Based on researches, the causes of obstructive sleep apnea show about 40 percent relative to genetics. For this reason, we can conclude that sleep apnea is genetic or hereditary. If you have a family history of experiencing sleep apnea, you also have a higher risk of developing the same condition.
On the other hand, there is still no scientific explanation on which genes are specifically responsible for developing sleep apnea. Overall, a family history with underlying genetic causes shows higher risk factors in developing sleep apnea. In other words, they serve as an indirect connection between sleep apnea and genetics.
Treatment for sleep apnea
Milder sleep apnea only requires lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or quitting smoking. In case of nasal allergies, your doctor may only prescribe treatment for your allergies. However, if there will be no improvement in your condition, it signifies moderate to severe sleep apnea.
In this case, your doctor might consider any of the following treatment options for you.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): This machine delivers air pressure through a mask. You will be using this while you sleep. The air pressure coming from this machine is greater than the surrounding air. It is only enough to keep your air passage open.
- Orthodontic appliances: There are also oral devices that can help address your sleep apnea. It includes mandibular advancement devices (MADs), such as sports mouthguards or orthodontic retainers. On the other hand, another dental device is tongue retaining mouthpieces. It is almost the same as the construction of MAD. However, it has a small compartment that fits around the tongue. These devices are excellent for patients who cannot have their jaw repositioned forward.
- Treatment for associated medical problems: If a person has other illnesses, such as heart problems, applying treatment for those might also help work out sleep apnea.
- Supplemental oxygen: Supplying oxygen through a device can deliver enough oxygen to your lungs while you are asleep.
- Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV): This device records your normal breathing patterns and stores it inside a computer. When you already fell asleep, the machine will automatically apply pressure to normalize your breathing pattern. In effect, it prevents breathing pauses.
On the other hand, these treatment options might not even work for you. In that case, the doctor might consider surgery as your treatment option.
If you reached up to this point, that means other treatments did not work for you. But then again, before you reach this point, you may have already undergone a three-month trial of the options we have mentioned above. In general, your surgery may include the following procedures:
- Tissue removal: This procedure consists of removing tissue from the rear part of your mouth and atop your throat. Aside from that, your doctor might also remove your tonsils and adenoids.
- Tissue shrinkage: This procedure uses radiofrequency ablation to shrink the tissue at the rear part of your mouth and the back of your throat.
- Jaw repositioning: The doctor will move your jaw forward from the remainder of your face bones.
- Implants: The doctor will implant soft rods (made of polyester or plastic) into the soft palate.
- Nerve stimulation: The stimulator will help your nerve control your tongue and keep it in position to keep the airway open.
- Tracheostomy: This procedure only applies if you have severe, life-threatening sleep apnea.