Has someone ever told you that you have your mom’s eyes or your dad’s nose? How about their sleep apnea? Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and many leave their condition untreated or don’t even know they have it. If sleep apnea runs in your family, you could be at risk for developing this potentially serious sleeping disorder.
Overview of sleep apnea
If you have sleep apnea, it means that your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most frequently diagnosed type of sleep apnea. With this type of sleep apnea, your throat muscles relax while you sleep, causing you to stop breathing for brief periods of time.
Central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea occurs when symptoms from both central and obstructive sleep apnea are present.
Genetics and sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can be due to certain conditions or habits, such as smoking, high blood pressure, or chronic nasal congestion. However, sleep apnea is often an inherited condition. This means that if one or both of your parents have sleep apnea, you have a good chance of developing it. Sleep apnea can be inherited in two ways: directly and indirectly.
One study determined that the risk of developing sleep apnea increased by 50% if parents had the condition. Sleep apnea can be due to a mutated gene, and if your parents have this gene, they can pass it on to you.
You may also develop sleep apnea if other diseases or conditions are passed down from your parents. For example, obesity can be hereditary, and carrying extra weight can contribute to difficulty breathing while sleeping.
The shape of your face and structure of your skull can also impact whether or not you have sleep apnea. You didn’t get to choose how your face was formed, but it could have serious effects on your ability to breathe while sleeping. The positioning of your jaw, the amount of space your structure allows for your tongue, the size of your tongue, and even the size of your tonsils can all contribute to the development of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
If someone in your family has sleep apnea, but you’re unsure if you have it, consider these common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Stopping breathing while sleeping
- Waking up with a dry mouth or gasping for air
- Trouble staying asleep
- Tiredness during the day, even after a full night’s sleep
If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Mizrahi so he can give you a full evaluation. If you have sleep apnea, he can develop a customized treatment plan.
Treatment for sleep apnea
Dr. Mizrahi often recommends continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to treat sleep apnea. CPAP machines work to keep your airways open as you breathe. Dr. Mizrahi can fit you for a customized device to ensure you get a safe and restful night of sleep.
Just because you may have inherited sleep apnea doesn’t mean you can’t treat it. If you’re ready to reclaim your nights, take back your days, and feel what it’s like to be truly rested, book an appointment online or over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.