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Is Snoring Genetic? The Truth Behind Hereditary Snoring

You snore, your father snores, his father snored and your great-grandfather snored. Everyone in your family snores, so it must be a genetic thing, right?

While we often blame genetics for gifting us undesirable traits, the truth is, genetics are not always to blame. This is especially true for those who snore. While hereditary factors are sometimes the cause of snoring, lifestyle choices are often a more likely culprit.

Let’s discuss the difference between snoring caused by genetics vs snoring caused by lifestyle choices. In other words, factors that are in your control vs those not in your control.

When Genetics Causes Snoring

The shape of your face, an airway anatomy or craniofacial abnormalities are some hereditary factors that can contribute to snoring.

For instance, a larger than average tongue can fall backward and cause an airway blockage which may result in snoring. The tongue is directly tied to the back of the throat and airway, which is the site where snoring most commonly occurs.

Those with retrognathia, better known as an overbite, are far more susceptible to snoring because their jaw is shifted back which causes a narrowing of the airway and ultimately snoring or sleep apnea. Retrognathia can sometimes be treated using braces or in some cases, surgery. The good news is that nearly anyone can undergo treatment including children and adults.

Abnormalities in the airway are genetic factors that can also be to blame for snoring. For instance, if you were simply born with an airway that is too small, a restriction of air will occur and snoring may result.

Having a large neck, (over 16.5″ for males) is another genetic factor that causes snoring. If the girth of your neck is larger than average due to being overweight, this would fall under lifestyle factors.

If you have any of these genetic factors, you are three times more likely to suffer from snoring than someone who does not have these abnormalities.

Lifestyle Factors That Influence Snoring

Guy with gut hanging over pantsObesity is by far the most common lifestyle factor that causes snoring. When overweight, fat has a tendency to accumulate around the neck which will place force on the airway and reduces the diameter of the windpipe. In some cases, it may even completely cut off your breathing while asleep (sleep apnea).

“But my whole family is overweight so it must be hereditary.”

While there are several theories as to whether or not genetics plays a role in obesity, most experts agree that environmental factors are more likely to cause one to be overweight. For instance, those who were brought up eating high fat, high calorie, processed foods will likely continue this learned behavior into adulthood and become overweight.

Does your diet consist of mostly vegetables, fruit, lean meat, beans, eggs, and nuts or does it consist of pizza, burgers, fried foods and enriched bread? If you answered yes to the ladder, there is room to improve your diet.

In addition to diet, ask yourself if you are exercising for at least 30 minutes per day. Thirty minutes of exercise can speed up your metabolism which will help to keep your weight in check.

Alcohol use and smoking are also common lifestyle factors that contribute to snoring.

Alcohol is a depressant which causes the muscles in your body to relax. Drinking alcohol before bed can cause the airway to relax which will restrict breathing and often result in snoring. Has your spouse every commented that your snoring worsens after a night of drinking alcohol?

Smoking causes swelling (inflammation) of the airway which will reduce its diameter and cause snoring. Smoke for cigarettes irritates the lining of the airway and causes tissue to swell.

Final Thoughts

While it’s easy to blame our snoring on genetic features, if you want to know the true reason behind your snoring, start by evaluating your lifestyle choices and make changes based on what you find. It’s quite possible that altering your lifestyle will cause a dramatic change in your snoring.

For some, a combination of both poor lifestyle choices along with genetic factors results in a snoring condition. Even if you are genetically predisposed to snoring, maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be just enough to tip the scales and prevent snoring.

Then there are those who practice healthy habits but simply inherited the curse of snoring. For these individuals, there are antisnoring products out there such as these which can provide relief from snoring. If you fall into this category, speak with your doctor who can evaluate your situation and offer treatment options.

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