Inside the Philips CPAP Machine Recall

April 22, 2022

On June 30, 2021, the FDA announced that Philips Respironics had recalled several of their ventilator, CPAP, and BiPAP devices because of the potential health risks. The company was made aware that the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam—used in these machines to reduce sound and vibration—may break down over time and enter the device’s air pathway. This can then cause the user to inhale or swallow black debris, either from the foam itself or a variety of other chemicals.

These issues could result in serious injury, cause life-threatening harm and permanent impairment, or even require additional medical intervention or surgery to prevent further damage. So, how will the industry move on after such a startling announcement? What can users of these devices do to continue treating their sleep apnea? Keep reading to learn all about the impact of the Philips recall, the risks associated with the use of these devices, and tips for moving forward with alternative sleep apnea treatment options.

How This Recall Will Impact Users Nationwide

Millions of people have been left scrambling for new solutions to their sleep problems since the announcement of the Philips CPAP recall. Those who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are faced with the problem of not only addressing the risk associated with continuous use of these machines but also the negative consequences that could arise from ceasing treatment.

According to Donald Camp, a 72-year-old man who suffers from sleep apnea and was featured in The New York Times, the decision to stop treatment is not even close to an easy one. “I believe any risk of cancer is less than the risk of the serious consequences of sleep apnea,” he says.

It’s difficult to predict how the recall will continue to impact users for years to come, but this much is clear: Many of those with the disorder have never had a greater need for alternatives to the CPAP machine.

OSA has been shown to be associated with a number of serious, life-altering health concerns, including the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Early death

Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea need access to reliable, safe, and effective treatment options—and they need them before the disorder takes a toll on their long-term health.

The Risk of Continuous Use of Philips CPAP Recalled Machines

While many users of Philips CPAP machines may feel that the risk of ceasing treatment outweighs the effects of continuous use, everyone should have all the facts before they make a decision. According to the FDA, ingestion of the PE-PUR foam found in the affected devices could lead to the development of any of the following:

  • Irritation to the skin, eye, and respiratory system
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory response
  • Headache
  • Asthma
  • Toxic effects to the organs, including the kidneys and liver
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hypersensitivity
  • And more

These issues could result in serious injury that requires medical intervention to prevent life-threatening damage; however, there have been no reports of death. Check your devices for any evidence of foam degradation—such as black debris—and, if found, stop the use of your device until you can contact your medical provider.

Recommendations for Those Who Use Philips Machines

Responding to an FDA recall can be overwhelming and challenging, especially when it’s for something that you or a loved one uses daily. The first and most important thing you can do is talk to your healthcare provider to decide on the best treatment moving forward. If you are a caregiver for someone who uses one of the recalled machines, do not stop or change CPAP use until you have spoken with a medical professional.

Talking with your provider can help you identify a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs. Your doctor may suggest any of the following alternatives:

  • Stopping the use of your device
  • Continuing to use your device if it is determined that the benefits outweigh the risks
  • Using a similar device that has not been recalled
  • Implementing long-term lifestyle changes, like stopping smoking, avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and exercising
  • Considering surgical options in certain cases
  • Using an inline bacterial filter, which could help filter out particles of foam

On top of speaking with your doctor about the Philips CPAP machine recall, make sure to follow Philips’ instructions for replacement guidelines, register your device on the recall website, and report any problems you may notice through the FDA’s MedWatch Voluntary Reporting Form.

Infographic of alternative treatment options from CPAP for sleep apnea

Alternatives to the CPAP Machine

The CPAP machine is not the only form of treatment available for sleep apnea. Treatments such as lifestyle changes, positional therapy, surgery, and oral appliances could leave you breathing more efficiently for the rest of your life. Consider speaking with both your doctor and dentist about your concerns; they can work together to find an alternative solution that improves your breathing, sleep, and overall health.

Don’t resign yourself to a lifetime of treatment that doesn’t work for you. If you’re looking for a new solution to your sleep apnea, talk to your dentist about potential solutions that could help you for years to come!