Sleep apnea is just one of many different sleep disorders that affect a large portion of the American populace. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person has trouble breathing unassisted while asleep, and often cannot sleep at all without the use of a specialized machine that supplies them with constant positive air pressure – known as a CPAP machine. This year, one of the most popular brands of CPAP machines recalled several popular models due to life-threatening health concerns resulting from defective components.
The health risks involved
Respironics (the child company of Philips that manufactures the machines) uses a polyurethane foam lining inside their machines to absorb sound and make them run more quietly, so as not to disturb the sleep of the user. The Food and Drug Administration recently discovered that this polyurethane foam can break down, releasing dangerous chemicals that the user can then breathe in.
Breathing in these toxic chemicals can irritate your lungs, and can lead to asthma and even cancer. The harmful effects are not limited to the respiratory tract. Over time, the toxic effect can also spread to your kidneys and liver.
There are currently up to two million Philips Respironics CPAP machines in use in the United States. The company is doing their best to repair and replace the dangerous components in their machines, but they are dealing with an overwhelming backlog of orders.
Those who have been using the recalled devices now have a difficult choice to make. Some have stopped using the device, with no clear indication of when they will be able to receive a replacement. Others continue to use their device, aware of the risks, because they find the risk preferable to the effects of sleep apnea.
If you or someone you know uses a CPAP machine manufactured by Respironics, you should call Philips immediately to put yourself on the waiting list for a replacement of your machine. If you suffer negative effects from using your machine before you learned of its defects, speak with an attorney to discuss your options.