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Philips CPAP Side Effects

Philips CPAP machines' short-term side effects include skin irritation, nasal dryness and insomnia. Some Philips CPAP devices were recalled after the potential for severe side effects such as cancer, organ damage and airway inflammation was discovered.

Last Modified: May 6, 2024
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Latest Side Effects Information for Philips CPAP Machines

In January 2024, the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database showed 500 adverse event reports about Philips DreamStation CPAP devices. These included nine deaths and 30 users diagnosed with cancer.

Other frequently reported side effects included headache, dyspnea and asthma.

In June 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated a safety communication about certain Philips ventilators, CPAP and BiPAP machines that the company had recalled a year earlier. The FDA cited medical device reports to the agency that defects leading to the recall may be associated with serious side effects.

MaryAnn DePietro, CRT
“If you choose to use a CPAP, it may take some trial and error to find the right mask and settings to sleep comfortably and remain compliant with treatment.”

What Causes Philips CPAP Machine Side Effects?

Philips used polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam to make CPAP and other machines quieter and to reduce vibration. But the foam can break down and small pieces or chemicals might be breathed in or swallowed, which can be dangerous.

In June 2021, Philips recalled more than 140,000 machines because of the foam problem. The company also notified doctors that tests showed the foam could potentially cause a range of health problems, from mild symptoms to serious injuries that could be life-threatening or cause long-term damage.

Lawyer Trent Miracle explains the side effects linked to recalled Philips CPAP machines and why Philips is being sued.

“Patients using affected Philips CPAP machines may experience short-term side effects like coughing, chest pressure, sinus congestion or even more severe respiratory symptoms,” Mike Breslin, owner of ProMed Durable Medical Equipment in Stuart, Fla., told Drugwatch.

Philips warned people who used machines with this foam and were experiencing any of these symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.

Common Side Effects of Philips CPAP Devices

Common Philips CPAP side effects may include dry eye, respiratory infections, skin irritation and nasal inflammation. Many patients cite discomfort from improper air pressure and the mask itself. Recalled Philips CPAP machines may cause more serious side effects, including cancer.

Users of continuous positive airway pressure machines may experience common side effects periodically, even after the initial adjustment period.

Common CPAP Side Effects
Abdominal discomfort, acid reflux or flatulence due to swallowing pressurized air.
Air Leakage
May disrupt sleep.
Mask wear may trigger fear of being in small or enclosed spaces.
Mask wear may be uncomfortable.
Dry Eye
Typically caused by air passing through nose ducts, air leakage or bacteria trapped by the mask.
Ear Pressure/Pain
Middle ear pressure caused by breathing through CPAP machines.
Face Growth Issues
Reduced facial growth in children because of prolonged usage.
Inadequate Pressure Due to Leaks
If pressure is not adequate, it will not reduce obstruction properly and apnea can still occur.
Sleep issues caused by CPAP machine noise or adjustment period.
Nasal Inflammation or Dryness
Nasal discomfort from continuous pressurized airflow.
Respiratory Infections
Often caused by bacteria in the mask or air pathway.
Skin Irritation
Rashes, sores or marks due to a mask’s composition or fit. Skin irritation can become serious and, in susceptible people, skin infection can develop.
Tooth Shifting or Chipping
Dental issues resulting from tight chin straps or tongue position.

Discuss all side effects with your physician. Pressure adjustments or using a different mask may alleviate your problems. You may also ask your doctor about alternatives to CPAP to treat your sleep apnea.

Serious Side Effects of Philips CPAP Machines

Potential long-term side effects from recalled Philips CPAP machines include respiratory problems, asthma and cancer risks.

Several people have filed Philips CPAP lawsuits over their recalled devices, claiming that the company produced a defective product and failed to warn users of the potential risks.

Long-Term Health Issues Associated With Philips CPAP Machines
  • Abdominal cancers
  • Asthma
  • Hematopoietic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mammary gland cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Organ damage
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Respiratory issues

Ingested or inhaled PE-PUR foam particles or chemical gases may lead to carcinogenic, toxic or respiratory side effects. Philips has identified several chemical particles and gasses that may be ingested.

Ingestible chemical particles and gasses found by Philips include:
Dimethyl Diazine
Associated with intestinal diseases and colorectal neoplasms, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Phenol 2,6-bis(1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-(1-methylpropyl)
Exposure may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, skin, throat and nervous system. Symptoms include weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, muscle aches, pain, liver and kidney damage, skin burns, tremors, convulsions and twitching, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diethylene Glycol
Can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness. Associated with acidosis, kidney diseases, acute kidney necrosis and liver injury, according to the NIH.
Can irritate eyes, skin, nose and throat; can cause dermatitis; ataxia, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, respiratory depression; methemoglobinemia, cyanosis, headache, weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, bluish skin; may cause liver injury; and some types of cancers according to the CDC.

“The potential long-term health risks associated with inhaling or swallowing particles from degraded foam in recalled Philips CPAP machines are concerning,” Breslin said. “Consulting with health care providers is essential for appropriate guidance and support.”

Other Short-Term Side Effects of Philips CPAP Machines

Patients may experience short-term symptoms such as difficulty breathing, cough, and runny nose due to recalled Philips CPAP machines. Not all patients may have long-term health issues as a result of inhaling particles from degraded sound abatement foam.

Short-Term Side Effects of Philips CPAP Machines
  • Allergic and skin reactions
  • Airway inflammation (especially dangerous for people with lung disease or reduced breathing capacity)
  • Chest pressure
  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Irritation of the respiratory tract, eyes, nose and skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sinus infections

The severity of side effects may depend on how long you’ve used a recalled machine and your overall health. Inform your doctor of any symptoms, no matter how minor or occasional.

When To Seek Medical Attention for CPAP Machine Side Effects

Inform your doctor right away of any Philips CPAP side effect symptoms, no matter how minor or occasional.

If you use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of continuing the use of a recalled or repaired device. In some cases, stopping use of the CPAP machine may be riskier than continuing to use it. You and your doctor can decide if the benefits of continuing use outweigh any risks.

Tips for Preventing CPAP Machine Side Effects

Tips for preventing CPAP side effects include keeping your machine clean and using it only as directed. If you experience side effects, don’t stop using your machine or make adjustments to its use until you speak to your doctor.

Steps To Prevent Philips CPAP Side Effects
  • Adjust your mask for a tight, comfortable fit. Try a different mask if needed.
  • Clean the tube and mask daily and replace as required using manufacturer-recommended methods.
  • Get used to the machine while awake to avoid claustrophobia. Start with holding the mask to your face, then work up to using it while sleeping. Different-sized masks may help.
  • Gradually increase pressure if the machine has an adjustable feature. Consult with a doctor to adjust pressure settings if it doesn’t.
  • Pressure sores can develop due to the mask. Placing a nasal pad may help.
  • Use a chinstrap to prevent dry mouth.
  • Use humification to reduce dryness; always use sterile water to reduce the risk of infection.

FDA advises against removing foam from recalled Philips CPAP machines, as it may lead to side effects or damage. Hot and humid environments, UV light and ozone cleaners can also degrade PE-PUR foam and should be avoided.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.