Is Ethnicity a Factor in Sleep Apnea?

Is Ethnicity a Factor in Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea can take a serious toll on an individual’s health. Like many sleeping disorders, sleep apnea causes frequent interruptions to our sleep cycle. When sleeping problems disrupt our bodies’ natural ability to restore themselves, they increase an individual’s likelihood to develop chronic health conditions, including heart disease, depression and stroke. For that reason, receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendation is crucial to our overall health. New research indicates that there may be surprising important factor to consider in regards to apnea: your ethnicity.

One of the most common reasons individuals develop sleep apnea is tied to their weight. Those who are overweight have additional tissue surrounding the palate and throat, which can obstruct airways during sleep. Some research has suggested that ethnicity also factors into cases of weight-related apnea, and certain ethnicities may be more prone to develop sleep apnea following weight gain.
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For example, an individual of Asian descent is more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea after a slight or moderate weight gain than their Caucasian counterpart. Those in the medical community hypothesize that this has to do with the inherited skeletal makeup of their head, throat and face.

Additionally, the severity of sleep apnea symptoms have been shown to vary by race. A study by Detroit Receiving Hospital Sleep Disorders Center observed 512 patients of different backgrounds. The study showed that the severity of apnea symptoms was highest among African-American men.

Understanding how genetics factor into apnea may open the door to more customizable and effective treatment methods. If you or a loved one is suffering from a sleep disorder, our team of highly skilled ENT professionals can help. Our clinic provides the most advanced sleep apnea and snoring treatments in Tyler, Texas. To learn more about our services, contact our team today!