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What Are the Most Common Problems with CPAP Machines?


A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a medical device used to treat obstructive sleep apnea—a condition that causes throat muscles to relax so much that breathing is periodically cut off during sleep. CPAP machines have long been an effective way for many people to cope with sleep apnea.

In June 2021, there was a recall of many CPAP machines and similar devices manufactured by Philips Respironics. The recall was due to the fact that a foam material used to silence the machines could degrade and be inhaled by users. Inhaling this foam has been known to cause serious health risks and even cancer in some patients. For this reason, Frost Law Firm, PC devotes an area of our legal practice to representing those who have been harmed by defective CPAP machines.

Our website provides comprehensive information for individuals and families exploring legal options following an injury by a recalled Philips Respironics CPAP machine. We invite you to read more about how to file a CPAP machine lawsuit. If you are experiencing health concerns after using a recalled machine, please contact Frost Law Firm, PC for more information.

The problems associated with the recalled machines are much different from the common, everyday discomforts and inconveniences some CPAP users experience. Let’s learn more about the most common CPAP machine problems and what you can do about them.

Common CPAP Machine Side Effects and How To Fix Them

While CPAP machines have life-saving properties, some people find them uncomfortable or difficult to use. It takes many users some time—perhaps weeks or months—to get used to sleeping with CPAP equipment on. Some of the most common problems and side effects reported by CPAP users include:

  • Dry or Stuffy Nose. If you experience congestion or nasal discomfort after CPAP use, you’re not alone. Using a nasal saline spray at bedtime can help. Be sure that your mask fits properly so air doesn’t leak out. It may be helpful to look into a CPAP machine that has a heated humidifier feature.
  • Dry Mouth. Many people find they keep their mouths open at night while using a CPAP, leading to uncomfortable dryness. A chin strap can be used to keep the mouth shut during sleep, or a full face mask can be worn to cover the mouth area. Be sure to stay well hydrated during the daytime as well.
  • Gas and Abdominal Bloating. “Aerophagia” is the medical term to describe swallowing too much air, causing painful bloating and excess gas. This frequently happens among CPAP users, especially those first becoming accustomed to sleeping with the device. It may be helpful to sleep at an incline so gas can’t easily reach the stomach, or adjust the type of mask or level of air pressure you’re using. Some people take an over-the-counter anti-gas or heartburn medication to ease symptoms.
  • Feelings of Claustrophobia. The condition called “CPAP claustrophobia” is very real for many users. It’s not an easy adjustment to sleep every night with machinery strapped to your face. Time is an important factor in coping with this CPAP problem. You may need to try a few different types of facemasks to find the one most comfortable for you. Don’t hesitate to express any concerns to your doctor.

One of the best ways to prevent problems is to make sure that all facemask components fit you well, and that you are wearing them properly. Make sure all machine settings are adjusted appropriately.

Another way to avoid issues with a CPAP machine is to wash it regularly.

Clean Your CPAP Machine To Prevent Problems

Maintaining a clean device can help make sure your machine is safe to use. Neglecting to regularly wash a CPAP machine can lead to an accumulation of germs in the breathing apparatuses. Dirty CPAPs are more likely to cause illness, infection, and worsening of existing lung complications.

While you may already have your own cleaning regimen, the following tips recommended by Harvard Medical School can keep your machine clean and safe for use:

  • Every morning after use, wash the mask, water chamber, and tubing of your CPAP machine. Use hot, soapy water and make sure water runs fully through the tubing.
  • Allow your machine parts to fully airdry before putting them away.
  • Wash the headgear and filter at least once a week.
  • Soak the water chamber in diluted white vinegar weekly to prevent mold growth.
  • Change disposable filters (if your machine has them) once a month.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for any other cleaning instructions.

There are CPAP home cleaning systems on the market. These typically use ozone gas or ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize the machines. However, no home CPAP cleaning systems using ozone gas or UV light have been approved or cleared by the FDA. The FDA has stated that not enough evidence exists to accurately determine if these home cleaning systems actually disinfect CPAP equipment of germs and allergens. It’s best to clean machines by hand—using the steps listed above—to be sure your CPAP is safe for use.

Get Help After a Recalled CPAP Machine Illness

Most CPAP machines are effective and safe—and in many cases, integral to a sleep apnea sufferer’s health. Many of the minor issues associated with these machines can be prevented through proper use, cleaning, and maintenance. But if your CPAP machine was designed and manufactured with a dangerous defect, you may be at risk of a serious illness like cancer.

If you’re not sure whether your CPAP machine has been recalled, please see our list of recalled Philips Respironics CPAP and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) devices here. CPAP users who find out a machine they use has been recalled are left with lots of questions. Many users wonder if a CPAP recall is really that serious. The product liability lawyers at Frost Law Firm, PC know how serious the damage from a faulty machine can be. We hope that the information published on our website will be valuable to those exploring options after being harmed by a defective CPAP machine.

To speak with an experienced lawyer about the next steps to take, contact Frost Law Firm, PC to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you of your legal options at no cost to you.

Our Experience Is Personal

Scott L. Frost’s Family Experience with Lung Cancer

For most of his life, Scott L. Frost’s father, who was in the construction industry, worked with and sold products containing asbestos without knowing the materials were dangerous. He was diagnosed with lung cancer 40 years after starting his career, leading Scott’s family to fight like they had never fought before.

Pictured here with his wife of over 50 years, Scott’s father eventually succumbed to the cancer. Since then, Scott has made it his mission to do everything in his power to make sure corporations understand how dangerous asbestos is and prevent future generations from suffering as his family did, as well as support research that may lead to finding a cure.

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