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Last Updated on October 17, 2023

Is Sleep Apnea Genetic? Overview:

The term sleep disorder refers to medical conditions that affect sleep quality, duration, timing, and a person’s ability to function properly while awake. This may result in other medical conditions or indicate underlying mental health issues. Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that impedes normal breathing during nighttime. It is further divided into two types — Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is when the muscles in the throat relax, obstructing the passage of air into the lungs. Whereas central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to transmit appropriate signals to the muscles responsible for regulating breathing.

This blog will delve deep into the intricacies of obstructive sleep apnea and answer some of the most commonly asked questions, such as, “Is obstructive sleep apnea genetic?”, “Is sleep apnea hereditary?” and “What age does sleep apnea start?’’

Etiology of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much, making it difficult to breathe properly. These muscles support the soft palate, which is the back of the roof of the mouth. The muscles also support the tongue and the throat’s side walls.

When you relax your muscles, the airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. This can cause a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood as well as a buildup of carbon dioxide.

Your brain detects obstructed breathing and momentarily wakes you up so that this may reopen your airway. This awakening is frequently so brief that you are unaware of it. This shortness of breath resolves quickly, within one or two deep breaths.

This sequence may recur 5 to 30 times or more every hour, all night. These disruptions hinder your capacity to enter deep, restful sleep, and you will most likely feel sleepy during your rouse hours.

How does Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Present?

  • Audible snoring
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing while sleeping – as recounted by another individual
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • A headache in the morning
  • Insomnia — difficulty in staying asleep
  • Hypersomnia — excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Having trouble paying attention while awake
  • Irritability

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Sleep apnea can be inherited, which means it can run in families. While it is not directly inherited in the same way that certain hereditary disorders are, there is evidence that genetics may play a role in increasing the chance of developing sleep apnea. If you have a family history of sleep apnea, you are more likely to acquire the illness, but certain lifestyle choices such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption also play a role. As a result, while determining your risk of sleep apnea, it’s critical to include both hereditary and environmental factors.

At what Age does Sleep Apnea Start?

People of all ages, including children and adults, can suffer from sleep apnea. However, it is more typically identified in adults, particularly those in their forties and fifties. The chance of having sleep apnea rises with age.

Sleep apnea in children can be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and symptoms include snoring, breathing pauses, and restless sleep. Obesity, family history, and lifestyle choices such as smoking, and alcohol intake can all contribute to the development of sleep apnea in adults.

It is crucial to note that sleep apnea can occur at any age, so if you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms such as loud snoring, gasping for breath during sleep, or extreme daytime lethargy, it is critical to receive medical attention. Early detection and treatment can aid in the management of the condition, as well as enhance overall health and quality of life.

Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Is Sleep Apnea Genetic?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Machine (CPAP)

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be recommended by a physician to eradicate snoring and avoid sleep apnea. A CPAP machine applies just enough pressure through a mask to keep the upper airway passages open, as a result, in avoiding snoring and sleep apnea.


These are effective in mild to moderate OSA. They keep the throat open by bringing the lower jaw forward which relieves snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Additionally, mouthpieces are also used in instances where CPAP does not prove beneficial.

A Word from Revive

Revive Research Institute is a strong advocate of making healthcare accessible to everyone. We have conducted multiple Pulmonology clinical trials in Michigan. Currently, we are conducting Obstructive Sleep Apnea clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of an investigational product to help people manage their symptoms effectively.


To summarize, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a dangerous and potentially fatal sleep disease that affects people of all ages. It is characterized by repeated episodes of disrupted breathing during sleep, which are frequently caused by the relaxation of throat muscles and the subsequent restriction of airflow. OSA can cause a variety of health concerns, including daytime weariness, cardiovascular issues, and cognitive deficits.

One question that often emerges is, “Is obstructive sleep apnea genetic?” While it may play a role in causing OSA, it is not the only cause for it. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of OSA is critical since early diagnosis and treatment can significantly enhance an individual’s quality of life while also lowering the related health risks. If you or someone you know is suffering from OSA, seeking competent medical diagnosis and management is critical to properly treating the condition and ensuring better sleep and general health.

Dr. Zara Khan

Dr. Zara is a Dentist with expert knowledge in Recruitment tactics. Coupled with her insight into Marketing and her love for understanding medical conditions, she is an integral addition to Revival’s Patient Recruitment Department. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Health and Hospital Management.

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Southfield, MI

T: 248-564-1485