Image: Philips CPAP Side Effects

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a common therapy used to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is widely considered as the gold-standard in treating the disorder.

However, as with any other treatment options, a CPAP machine also comes with potential side effects. And even though many people consider these side effects as common, it is important not to overlook them.

In fact:

These breathing devices have recently been the subject of a recall notification issued by a medical equipment company.

Philips recently recalled several sleep apnea devices due to side effects and health concerns including lung injuries, respiratory problems, and even cancer. A number of CPAP machine users who were able to use some of the recalled devices have already filed a CPAP lawsuit.

In this article, you will learn about the most common side effects that comes with the use of these devices, including the potential health concerns from the products which were recently recalled by Philips.

Most Common Side Effects of CPAP Therapy

In general, the side effects that a user may expect from a Philips CPAP machine may be similar to some of the most common side effects experienced by patients with other sleep apnea devices.

One of the top complaints associated with the use of a CPAP machine is having trouble getting used to wearing the device. It can indeed take a lot of getting used to.

On the other hand, most complaints of side effects are related to the discomfort of wearing the CPAP mask and issues with air pressure.

Some potential CPAP side effects include:

Air Leaks from CPAP Masks

One of the most common side effects associated with CPAP therapy is air leakage. Air leakage occurs when the air comes out of the edges as you change position while sleeping, or if the mask does not fit properly.

Choosing a better fitting CPAP mask may help, as full face masks that cover your nose and mouth are mroe prone to air leaks. The use of nasal pillows or nasal mask is often recommended in reducing air leakage.

Air Swallowing or Aerophagia

Many CPAP device users also experience air swallowing, also known as aerophagia. This can be due to high pressure settings in the device. This happens when the flow of air becomes too much for a patient to handle or breathe against that the air is misdirected into the esophagus.

Symptoms of aerophagia include:

  • burping
  • bloating
  • passing gas
  • stomach pain

If you wake up and you feel like your stomach is filled with air, it may be due to aerophagia. An adjustment in the pressure settings as advised by your doctor or sleep specialist may help prevent this.

Dry Mouth or Nose

Dryness of the mouth or nose often occurs due to a leaky mask. A dry mouth or throat and a dry or stuffy nose are both caused by breathing in dry and pressurized air.

A CPAP humidifier that may soften your airflow and a nasal saline spray may help prevent your mouth or nose from drying out.

Skin Irritation (Rashes and Sores)

Skin problems due to a CPAP equipment may vary in severity. If treated promptly, some skin marks or rashes may quickly go away. In some cases, however, some rashes or an amount of redness may lead to skin allergies and dermatitis.

Skin irritations may be due to:

  • a leaky or poor-fitting mask
  • presence of bacteria in the CPAP machine
  • allergic reaction to the material used in the mask


New CPAP users may feel claustrophobic at first as they may find it hard to adjust to the feeling of wearing the breathing machine. This can be even more challenging for those who require a full face mask.

You can try practicing by using the mask first while you are awake or when you are reading or watching TV. Once you are comfortable with that, you can try it with the other parts while the CPAP device is turned on.

Stick with this routine for a couple of weeks to get accustomed to the mask and to properly determine if you are using the right mask with the rigth pressure.

Potential Side Effects from the Recalled Philips CPAP Devices

While many of the most common CPAP side effects can be resolved with proper adjustments to the medical device or may even go away on their own, this is not the case for the CPAP machines recently recalled by Philips.

The manufacturing company recalled millions of its breathing devices after it found out that the sound abatement foam present in the products to keep them from creating too much noise can potentially degrade or break down into particles which may be ingested or inhaled by a CPAP user via the device airway.

Degraded particles and potential chemical emissions from the sound abatement foam may result in toxic and even carcinogenic effects.

The recalled devices can also cause other potentially serious side effects, including:

  • irritation of the eye, skin, and/or respiratory tract
  • inflammatory reactions
  • adverse effects to the liver, kidneys, and other organs
  • respiratory problems including asthma
  • hypersensitivity
  • possible toxic effects
  • carcinogenic effects (cancer risks)

Due to several injuries and health risks linked to the recalled CPAP devices, many of the users who used to fully depend on the recalled products are now filing CPAP lawsuits.

The lawsuits allege that Philips have known of the potential dangers associated with the devices prior to the recall, but failed to adequately warn the public about these potential hazards.

Ways to Prevent CPAP Side Effects

Some common side effects may be discouraging at first, especially to a new CPAP user who is still adjusting to get used to the device.

The good news?

The mild issues you are experiencing can actually be prevented with proper use and care of your CPAP machine and with minimal intervention. Some tips for preventing CPAP side effects include:

  • Choose a proper-fitting mask.
  • Adjust the mask straps and make sure they are secured.
  • Clean your CPAP machine regularly.
  • Request changes in your CPAP pressure settings form your health care provider.
  • Use mask barrier products to protect your skin from irritation.
  • Consider switching to heated humidifiers or tubing.
  • Avoid using oil-based cleaning products that can build up in the mask.
  • Consider using a sinus medication.

While some of these potential side effects from CPAP therapy may easily discourage people and make them give up on their sleep apnea treatment, it is important to keep in mind that it does not only help with obstructive sleep apnea.

The sleep apnea machine also avoid complications which are related to the disorder, including the risk of stroke and heart disease.

What’s the Takeaway?

Although getting into CPAP therapy takes some getting used to, patience is the main key to achieving success with this treatment option. If your sleep apnea goes untreated, it may result in an increased risk of developing health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heart beats, and depression, among others.

It is important to work with your doctor and CPAP supplier to make sure that you are opting for the perfect CPAP mask and device for you. A visit to your sleep specialist may help you with the adjustment of the pressure settings.

Getting used to the mask may take some time, but getting a good night’s sleep might just be worth the wait.

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