Every night, countless people strap on a mask connected to a CPAP machine that provides continuous airflow. Whether they suffer from sleep disorders that include apnea, breathing issues, respiratory emergencies, or other afflictions, their reliance on the devices helps them get the rest they need.
For many, going without is not an option as obstructed breathing leaves them gasping for air. Yet, many are being forced to stop using their CPAPs due to a recent recall of machines manufactured by Phillips. In July, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning covering more than a dozen of the “life-threatening” devices that could result in permanent impairment and, for some, medical intervention.
Potential exposure to dangerous chemicals
The reason behind the recall involves a polyester-based polyurethane foam that helps to reduce the sound and vibration coming from the machine. Over time, degradation of the substance could result in users breathing in forced air that contains potentially dangerous chemicals or the possibility of swallowing black debris.
While potential risks of exposure include asthma and respiratory tract irritation, more severe outcomes could lead to “toxic and carcinogenic effects,” affecting kidneys and livers.
People with sleep apnea and other ailments who rely on their CPAPs are facing significant waiting lists, resulting in lengthy delays for replacements. Shortages and backlogged orders already existed as a result of the worldwide pandemic as devices were used in emergency rooms and intensive care units to treat severe respiratory illnesses caused by COVID-19.
The company is recommending that customers with affected devices immediately register their products and contact their doctors.
Time is not on the side of those who suffer from sleep apnea. Simply put, going without the device is not an option. Many users who can’t access replacement machines claim that they will continue to use the defective ones. The “devil’s bargain” gives them limited choices. On one side, they run the risk of serious and potentially deadly diseases. Their other option is not waking up.