The Genetics of Sleep Apnea

What does genetics have to do with Sleep Apnea? Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition in both male and female populations. It is a medical condition experienced while sleeping where a person’s airway becomes blocked or obstructed by the tissues in their throat and they cannot breathe for periods of time lasting for at least 10 seconds. Note that the usual time of no breathing is often for 30, 40, or more seconds; often longer than a person can hold their breath. Just as people have obvious outward physical characteristic differences, their internal physical characteristics are also different. Examples of this are, the size of a person’s airway, mouth, tongue, tonsils, palate, uvula, nasal passages, throat, etc. These are a result of the gene pool you inherited. So if your parents or other close relatives in your family have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, chances are great that you have it or will have it.

Ignoring the symptoms of Sleep Apnea can bring on other complicating health conditions called co-morbidities of Sleep Apnea much earlier. They include high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, atrial defibrillation, and other suspected conditions indicative of poor health. Tissue and nerve damage occur throughout the body the longer a person is not treated for their apnea.

Some signs of Sleep Apnea are the following: morning headaches, snoring, dry mouth in the morning, gasping for breath in the night, stopping breathing as witnessed by your bed partner, frequently waking and having to go to the bathroom in the night. Treatment is not always the dreaded C-PAP machine. It can often be the use of an oral appliance fitted by an experienced dentist in the treatment of Sleep Apnea. Non-treatment is deadly in the end. “He just died in his sleep!”