October 4, 2023
what is obstructive sleep apnea
It appears that your family background influences your chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Learning more about sleep disorders and how to treat them is one way to assist your family and yourself.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is also known as obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea.

It occurs when the muscles in your throat collapse on a regular basis, resulting in a full or partial blockage of airflow. 

Snoring is one of the most noticeable symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea because the person tries to breathe again when they stop.

The severity of obstructive sleep apnea can be mild, moderate, or severe and the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is commonly used to assess severity.

This system counts the number of times a person’s breathing pauses, as well as periods of shallow breathing, that occur during sleep over an hour.

Obesity, nasal congestion, and a large neck size all increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Genetic?

According to MedlinePlus, “the chances of getting [obstructive sleep apnea] is approximately 50% higher for first-degree relatives (like siblings or children) of affected individuals than for the general public.”

It appears that your family background influences your chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Learning more about sleep disorders and how to treat them is one way to assist your family and yourself.

If you are more prone to sleep disorders, keep a sleep journal to ensure you get the required amount of sleep for your age.

If you notice that you wake up multiple times per night or that you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, have a sleep specialist analyze you so that you can find solutions.

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OSA Risk Factors

According to sleep studies, specific risk factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) include inheriting:

  • Shorter length of the midface.
  • Brachycephaly (a flat back of head infant syndrome).
  • Larger tongue or tongue size in comparison to the rest of your mouth and throat.
  • Maxilla bones that are shorter (in the cheeks on either side of the nose).
  • Your mandibles’ length and position (bones in your lower jaw).
  • Hyoid bone placement (in your throat).

As you can see, the various ways in which bones shape your face and throat contribute to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). 

Despite your inherited bone and tissue structures, there are new therapies for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that can help you overcome the challenge of not getting enough sleep.

So to see your ENT doctor is a good place to begin because they specialize in issues involving the face and neck bones.

They excel in non-invasive treatments as well as surgeries to correct facial shapes that may be contributing to your sleep deprivation.

Other Factors That Contribute to OSA

OSA is caused by a variety of factors. Some may be genetically passed down to the next generation, while others may be the result of poor dietary or exercise habits, or overall poor health.

Obesity is the most common contributing factor.

Weight problems tend to run in families, whether due to poor eating habits or pure genetics.

When you have extra weight on your throat and face, the extra tissues, water weight, and puffiness can all contribute to less space in your throat as you relax your muscles and fall asleep.

Obesity does not appear to be the sole cause of OSA. Craniofacial structures (the bones in your face and neck) may contribute to problems by not allowing enough space for your fatty tissues.

Because we all have different facial structures, your inherited genetic makeup may influence whether or not you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

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Consider These Scientific Facts

If you are more likely to develop OSA, see a sleep specialist as soon as you notice sleep problems.

An ENT professional who could really diagnose a sleep disorder can assist you in determining the best treatment options in order to avoid becoming another statistic.

According to a study published in Sleep Medicine titled “Disparities and genetic risk factors in obstructive sleep apnea,” genetic factors include:

  • Despite lower obesity rates, Asians appear to have a higher risk of OSA due to their craniofacial structure.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea is more common among African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics, which is likely due to obesity.
  • Although Hispanics are more likely to report snoring, African Americans have a higher burden of symptoms, particularly excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • According to limited data, African Americans may be more prone to hypertension in the presence of OSA.
  • African American race is linked with a 20% rise in obstructive sleep apnea severity and greater oxygen desaturation in pediatric patients evaluated in a sleep clinic.
  • When compared to white children, African American children are 4-6 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Even among young adults under the age of 26, African Americans are 88% more likely than whites to have obstructive sleep apnea.”

Treatments for OSA

Regardless of your risk factors, the much more crucial thing is that there is help for OSA.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you are at risk for (OSA), there are treatments available.

Consult your doctor to determine which treatments might be effective for you.

Many medical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed. Isn’t that what we all require to live productive and fulfilling lives?

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