A user recently asked this question: Which oxygen concentrator can be used with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine? We thought it would be an excellent opportunity to answer this specific question but also expand on it a bit to address the overall subject of using oxygen with CPAP.
Let us begin by briefly exploring the need for a CPAP machine, then discuss why you might need to use oxygen with CPAP, and finally address the process of connecting an oxygen concentrator to your CPAP machine.
A Brief Overview of Sleep Apnea and the Need for Supplemental Oxygen
Sleep apnea is an umbrella term that includes both central and obstructive sleep apnea. Of the 2 types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by far the most common.
If you have already been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by your doctor, you probably also have a CPAP machine to use at night during sleep. A CPAP machine’s core function is to prevent the collapse of your airway while sleeping using pressurized air. However, the pressurized air still retains the normal concentration of oxygen as regular air, which is 21% oxygen.
Untreated OSA can lead to serious complications in the future, but the immediate result of OSA is a persistent lack of oxygen during sleep. If your doctor has determined that your oxygen levels drop too low or too often while you sleep, even while using a CPAP machine, they might also prescribe supplemental oxygen to be used in conjunction with your CPAP machine to keep your oxygen levels normal. This is achieved by "bleeding-in" oxygen into your CPAP system to increase the percentage of oxygen to greater than 21%.
If you have gotten this far in your therapy, but are wondering how a CPAP machine would work at the same time with your oxygen concentrator, the answer to this question is very straightforward.
How to Connect Your Oxygen Concentrator to Your CPAP Machine
The model of your concentrator does not determine whether or not it will work with a CPAP machine. As long as it has the continuous oxygen dosage setting you need, your oxygen concentrator will work with your CPAP. The determining factor of how you will use oxygen with your CPAP machine is the type of mask and/or CPAP tubing you are using.
Most standard CPAP nose masks have a bleed-in port directly on the mask that will allow you to attach oxygen tubing from the oxygen concentrator right to your mask. When not in use, you can easily cap this port and use your CPAP without oxygen again.
However, some masks do not have this bleed-in port directly on the mask. Luckily, there is another way you can connect your oxygen concentrator to your CPAP machine: using an oxygen bleed-in adapter.
An oxygen bleed-in adapter is simply a small plastic adapter that you would place in-line between the CPAP tubing and your CPAP machine. The adapter has a small port where you can attach oxygen tubing from your oxygen concentrator, and bleed-in oxygen into your CPAP system. For entire the procedure on how to place this adapter into almost any CPAP machine, visit our Connect a CPAP Machine to Your Oxygen Concentrator” how-to page.
There is another necessary procedure to follow when turning both machines on and off.
Always make sure to turn on the CPAP machine first—before the oxygen concentrator. When you are done using them, the oxygen concentrator should be turned off first, then turn off the CPAP machine. The reason for this procedure is because high oxygen concentrations can cause damage to the CPAP machine over time.
Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to use oxygen with CPAP, regardless of the oxygen concentrator brand you are already using. With a small adapter (or the port already on your mask) and oxygen tubing, you can easily connect these two devices and go about getting a good night’s sleep.
Updated: August 30, 2019
Published: December 30, 2015