A common condition that affects many people yet is still under-discussed is sleep apnea. Many people are likely to suffer from sleep apnea as they age. However, children and younger adults can suffer from this sleeping disorder, particularly concerning genetically passed down sleep apnea.
What Is sleep apnea?
It is a sleeping disorder that affects the quality of your sleep by reducing breathability at night. Although it is a sleeping disorder, sleep apnea features difficulty breathing by temporarily closing the airways when you sleep. Usually, patients with sleep apnea have brief sessions where they stop breathing, lasting anywhere between a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the severing of the disorder.
Sleep apnea can be mild or severe, depending on how long you stop breathing. A few seconds of not breathing when you sleep may not affect your health that much. However, sleep apnea can have fatal effects on your health if the breathability is limited for long periods when you sleep.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
The type of sleep apnea you have can help determine the cause thereof. Technically, the particular cause of obstructive sleep apnea is the over-relaxation of the throat muscles when you sleep, closing up your airways, and limiting airflow. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, concerns a miscommunication between your brain and your throat muscles. Since you cannot determine the type of sleep apnea you have, you need to visit a sleep center near you for an evaluation to diagnose your condition. Obstructive sleep apnea, however, is the most common type.
According to sleep doctors, more than 50% of the causes of obstructive sleep apnea are linked to environmental factors and lifestyle choices that affect the respiratory system. Some risk factors that can cause sleep apnea include:
- Obesity and being overweight
- Drug addiction – like using opioid
- Congestive heart problems
Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?
A type of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea has been attributed to genetics at a rate of up to 40%. Therefore, it is highly likely that you can suffer from sleep apnea due to inheriting the condition from other family members. It means that the more people in your family have sleep apnea, the higher chances of you getting it.
Who Is at High Risk for Hereditary Sleep Apnea?
Hereditary sleep apnea is mostly linked to some underlying health conditions. People at a higher risk of hereditary sleep apnea include:
- Obese or overweight people – if your family struggles with obesity, you are at a high risk of inheriting sleep apnea.
- Having a thicker neck than is average for your stature
- Having a small jawbone
- Underlying medical issues like lung diseases.
- Being male – men are about three times likely to have sleep apnea than women.
How You Can Realize the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
To think of treatment measures of preventive steps you can take for sleep apnea, you must first identify you have a problem. The following signs can help you discover that you have a sleeping disorder:
- Snoring loudly at night
- Dry mouth – can make you feel overly thirsty in the morning.
- Fatigue due to inadequate quality sleep
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Irritability and mood swings
- Temporarily not breathing when you sleep – you may notice this if you often wake up gasping for air at night.
- Persistent morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating that may be accompanied by memory loss.
Prevention Measures for Hereditary Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea treatment concentrates on managing the symptoms of sleep apnea to improve the quality of your sleep. However, at Taylor Made Sleep, we also champion preventive measures that can help people avoid hereditary sleep apnea. Some of the changes we recommend are:
- Lose weight – either obesity or being overweight.
- Physical exercise – improves circulation of blood in your body and helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol – or significantly limit the consumption.
- Avoid taking sedatives or sleeping pills before sleeping as they can cause the over-relaxation of your throat muscles.