Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a well-known treatment for obstructive sleep apnea patients, introduced in the 1980s to improve symptoms and reduce the risk of other health implications linked to the condition. Unfortunately, recent shortages have led to issues with supply, increased demand, and patients without the care they need.

What is a CPAP machine?

If you’re diagnosed or have a suspected case of sleep apnea, it’s likely that you’ve come across the term ‘CPAP’ or have considered using it as part of your treatment. The machine works by delivering air via a mask or tube into the airway, removing obstructions caused by the tongue, uvula, and soft palate. Patients wear a mask during the night to maintain a continuous flow of oxygen to the body, reducing frequent awakenings and daytime symptoms experienced by those living with the condition.

Learn more about the alternative treatment options at Sleep Cycle Centers.

The key issues impacting CPAP devices

Unfortunately, a number of those relying on a CPAP for treatment have found difficulties with shortages since 2020, as the pandemic impacted worldwide logistics and shipping options available to suppliers. These issues only escalated in 2021, when Philip Respironics announced the recall of approximately 3-4 million sleep apnea and ventilator devices in June of that year. By early 2022, it was estimated that the recall had affected around 5.2 million breathing machines, adding additional pressure to the pre-existing demands.

The demand for computer chips for CPAP machines

Only months before Philip’s recall of 2021, alternative CPAP manufacturers such as ResMed and 3B Medicalmeet began experiencing issues with the supply of computer chip technology – an essential component of the machine’s operations. The demands for remote work equipment, such as laptops and cell phone devices, had already impacted the availability of chips since the restrictions of COVID-19, which were only increased by the semiconductor factory fire’s damaging manufacturing lines. With a lack of computer chips to meet the needs of a demanding market, CPAP providers felt the strain of competing for parts against other major technology companies, impacting production lines and reducing availability for patients.

Philips Respironics’s recall

Although the 2021 recall announced Philip’s Respironics of CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP devices did not cause the initial shortage, the issues only escalated supply further for apnea patients. The major manufacturing company highlighted concerns with the PE-SUR sound abatement foam – which reduces noise levels from the machine when in use, on devices dating back to 2009, suggesting degrading equipment and exposure could pose health risks to patients. Several complaints regarding debris in the airway circuit, headaches, respiratory irritation, and infections led to the official recall of products, leaving many patients to source alternative treatments in an escalating market shortage.

Find out more about the official CPAP recall on the Food Drug Administration website

How to deal with the current CPAP shortage?

The CPAP shortage has been predicted to continue into 2023, with reports of suppliers still facing ongoing issues with meeting patient demand. Fortunately, those living with apnea now have a range of treatment options to explore based on the severity of their condition and the guidance of medical professionals. Whether you’re looking to replace a current or recalled CPAP device or considering a new treatment method entirely, this may be an opportunity to review treatment plans and look into new ways to manage ongoing symptoms, without the requirement to sleep with a mask!

Explore alternative treatments

Although CPAPs have been the most common form of apnea treatment previously, many have raised concerns about the adverse reactions, irritation to the skin, and respiratory discomfort caused by the mask. Alternative treatments can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but success has been shown from oral devices, lifestyle changes, and physiotherapy, making sleeping without a mask entirely possible!

Contact the Sleep Cycle Center to discuss treatment options

The Sleep Cycle Center team has a professional interest in alternative sleep apnea therapies, dedicated to improving quality of life and empowering patients to understand their condition and treatment options. The CPAP supply and demand issue could be the perfect opportunity to review alternative treatments and therapies!

Contact us today to get started.