Know your rights and injury

Can a CPAP machine damage lungs?

Medical Devices

A CPAP machine can damage lungs when its sound abatement foam introduces dangerous gasses or particles into your airway. This can lead to dangerous and deadly conditions like cancer and organ damage. 

If you or someone you love uses a CPAP machine and subsequently suffered damage to your lungs, our mass torts team will help you seek compensation. With legal guidance and direction, you can prove the connection between a faulty device and the damage to your lungs and overall health. The mass tort lawyer who represents you will manage your case and build a solid evidence file that helps you fight for the compensation you deserve.

What is a CPAP system and why is one needed?

Cleveland Clinic research defines sleep apnea as a disorder that causes people to stop breathing while asleep. It can also cause loud snoring and ongoing fatigue. 

There are two types of sleep apnea — obstructive (repeated episodes of fully or partially blocked upper airways) and central (where your brain does not provide your muscles with signals to breathe). When left untreated, sleep apnea can result in:

  • High blood pressure
  • Enlarged heart muscles
  • Heart failure or heart attacks

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system typically consists of a machine, mask, and tubing. According to Medline Plus, the system is prescribed for people who suffer from some form of sleep apnea. A CPAP system provides relief for sufferers of sleep apnea with a steady air pressure that keeps airways open.

Untreated sleep apnea can have social implications in addition to its medical ones. It can lead to a lack of productivity at home or work, car accidents, and accidental falls.

BPAP machines

Bilevel positive airway pressure machines are similar to CPAP machines and treat sleep apnea and other breathing issues. Some patients benefit more form this type of machine depending on the type of sleep apnea they have. CPAP is typically given to patients with obstructive sleep apnea, while BPAPs are usually better for those with central sleep apnea. BPAP machines help patients breathe with two different levels of air pressure. 

If your CPAP machine is not helping your sleep apnea, discuss BPAP machines with your doctor. They can help you figure out if you truly need to switch devices, or if you need to adjust your CPAP machine.

Other devices for breathing disorders

CPAP and BPAP machines are not the only home devices for people with trouble breathing. Ventilators can be used at home for people suffering with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the name for multiple diseases that can impact breathing, but they all cause lung inflammation. Although CPAP and BPAP machines can help some people with less severe COPD symptoms, many COPD patients may need an at-home ventilator.

How do CPAP machines help with sleep apnea?

A CPAP machine alleviates sleep apnea’s symptoms by providing device users with a steadily regulated stream of air. The device’s motor forces air through a filter and tube and delivers it to a face mask worn on your mouth, nose, or both.

While you sleep and the machine does its job, it gently forces air past any blockages so that your airway and lungs receive a sufficient supply of oxygen. Because nothing blocks the machine’s flow of air or your supply of air, your breathing is not interrupted during the night. 

If your machine is faulty or incorrectly calibrated, it might not provide you with the steady stream of air and oxygen you need. When that happens, you may continue to experience the troubling symptoms of sleep apnea. Too much pressure from the machine can cause discomfort or leak out of your mask. You may still be fatigued from a lack of sufficient air.

Tips for using a CPAP machine

New users might have a difficult time adjusting to the CPAP therapy experience. One of the best ways to adjust to a new CPAP device is by practicing its appropriate use. It can be challenging, at first, to sleep with a mask covering part of your face. Practice wearing your mask in the daytime and consider these additional tips for beginner CPAP device users:

  • Explore comfortable sleep positions until you find the one that suits you best
  • Remember that a CPAP machine is just that — a machine — and requires regular cleaning and maintenance
  • Talk to your doctor about using a machine with an auto ramp feature that gradually increases air pressure while you adjust to the device
  • Ensure your mask is comfortable and fits properly 
  • Experiment with different mask types to find the right one for you

Talk to experienced CPAP users for support, understanding, and additional tips. Above all, do not be afraid to ask for help and support or to report a problem or concern to your doctor.

The reality of CPAP machines and their potential health concerns

When your sleep is interrupted every night, it can make daily life frustrating and cause further health issues in the future. When your doctor recommends a CPAP machine, BPAP machine, or ventilator, the goal is to help you breathe easier and sleep through the night.

Philips Respironics, the company with faulty machines, recalled multiple devices as of June 2021. These recalls occurred because of deteriorating sound abatement foam that can release gases and particles into patients’ lungs and airways. These particles and gases can cause cancer and other issues. If your device is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recall list, make sure you work with your doctor to switch your machine and discuss any health concerns.

When the medical device you counted on for assistance leads to additional health care concerns, it can be difficult to know where to turn next. In some cases, the machine, itself may be flawed or faulty. If either of these situations leads to lung trouble or means you do not experience the benefits you anticipated, a lawyer in your area can help you hold the device’s manufacturer financially responsible.

What are other potential side effects of using a CPAP machine?

Many sleep apnea patients experience relief and reap the promised benefits of the CPAP experience. Other users can experience more minor side effects. Some commonly reported side effects include:

  • Air leaks from improperly fitted masks that allow air to escape during sleep
  • Dry mouth or nose that can cause nosebleed and tooth damage
  • Swallowing air which can cause stomach pain, flatulence, and excessive belching (aerophagia)
  • Developing central sleep apnea versus obstructive sleep apnea

Additional social and psychological side effects of CPAP use include feelings of claustrophobia as you adjust to wearing your mask, loud noise from the machine that interferes with sleep, and difficulty finding the proper air pressure setting which can take time and patience. Any adjustments to your machine or its setting should be made by your sleep specialist.

If I already have lung disease, can a CPAP make it worse?

Lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or interstitial lung disease often coexist with varying forms of sleep apnea. A CPAP or other device may help treat some of the symptoms of your lung disease. However, faulty equipment like those recalled by Philips Respironics may aggravate other long conditions and cause further problems. Your doctor can discuss if a BPAP, CPAP, or other mechanical ventilator is appropriate for your current lung issues. 

Many patients may have trouble adjusting to the mask or may need to have the machine’s air pressure recalibrated. If these issues occur, check with your doctor to figure out how you can adjust to CPAP use.

Philips Respironics is facing lawsuits for unsafe CPAP devices as of October 2021, and you may qualify to join a lawsuit. If you or your doctor suspects that your lung injuries are related to faulty CPAP device use, you may be able to seek compensation. These devices are linked to various cancers, including lung cancer, respiratory failure, lung disease, inflammation in the respiratory system, and other illnesses. 

Can a CPAP damage or weaken your lungs?

It can be hard to adjust to the nightly use of a CPAP machine and to become comfortable using one. However, CPAP machines help people with sleep apnea breathe comfortably and improves their overall quality of life.

CPAPs do not damage or weaken lungs if the device is safe and regularly cleaned. Failing to maintain the machine can contribute to sinus infections and bacterial or fungal growth in the machine, but it is not very common. However, first-time CPAP users may experience some of the symptoms with improper device use:

  • Chest muscle discomfort
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Upper respiratory infections

Additionally, some people do report developing central sleep apnea after using a CPAP machine. People who use a CPAP machine typically have trouble breathing because something physically prevents them from regular breathing. With central sleep apnea, the brain is not forcing your muscles to move properly. 

Recalled CPAP machines pose a health risk

Mechanical ventilators pose health hazards when foam degradation occurs, as foam particles and gases may cause cancer and other serious issues. If you do develop lung issues related to your CPAP machine or similar device, this may be a sign of serious issues with the device itself. 

If you are worried about lung illnesses and injuries cause by your device, particularly if your machine is one of the ones listed on the Philips Respironics recall list, seek medical attention immediately.

Can you get lung damage from too much CPAP pressure?

CPAP machines and similar devices do not typically cause lung damage. CPAP and BPAP devices help treat sleep apnea and the associated symptoms. Although the air pressure on your machine can be too high and cause discomfort, lung damage is not a typical concern. 


Your machine’s prescriber can help determine the best air pressure setting for you. If the air pressure on your CPAP is wrong, it can result in aerophagia. Aerophagia, according to Science Direct, can cause you to swallow air which can result in gassiness, bloating, discomfort, acid reflux, and even diarrhea. Although this condition is typically associated with too much pressure from a CPAP, patients may still develop aerophagia from insufficient air pressure.

Aerophagia from a CPAP machine, while uncomfortable, is not typically dangerous. Make sure you discuss adjusting your device’s air pressure with a physician as needed.

Other issues from CPAP machines

You might also experience a dry mouth and throat, excessive tiredness, and ongoing fatigue if the CPAP machine is not giving you the right amount of air. If the CPAP’s air pressure is too high, you may experience earaches or other forms of irritation. The CPAP mask may also irritate your skin, especially as you acclimate to wearing a mask. 

Tips to limit the possibility of illness from CPAP machines

One of the safest and simplest ways to prevent yourself from getting sick from a CPAP machine is to ensure it is clean at all times. Make a point to use distilled water versus tap water in your machine and regularly cleaning or replacing your:

  • Mask
  • CPAP machine
  • Disposable filters 
  • Device’s humidifier chamber

Clean all parts with warm, slightly soapy water and dry thoroughly. Proper cleaning and replacing parts as necessary can extend the life of your device. It can also prevent dangerous mold and infectious bacteria from forming. 

Call for a free consultation

If you or someone you love suffered from damaged lungs caused by a CPAP medical device or similar at-home breathing machine, you could be entitled to financial compensation from the device’s manufacturer. Fill out our brief contact form for help with your case or call ( 1-844-448-6787 to explore your compensation options and get your free consultation today.