The Differences Between Oxygen Concentrators and CPAP Machines

Oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines aren't one in the same – they're two different pieces of medical equipment that are prescribed for various reasons and fulfill different needs.

Even so, they do have some things in common. Here, we will cover how they are alike and then go over their differences in what they treat and how they work.

How are CPAP and Oxygen Concentrators Similar?

They are similar in the way that they both push air into the lungs through a rubber tube, to help with a medical condition. They are also similar in the way that the flow setting is prescribed based on the needs of the patient.

For example, one person with sleep apnea might need a higher flow of air than another person with sleep apnea, whose condition isn't as severe. Someone with COPD might need a pulse dose setting of 2, where another person with COPD needs a continuous flow of oxygen at 4 LPM.

CPAP Machines

A CPAP machine is used to treat severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). They only push a constant stream of air into the airways, not concentrated oxygen. This stream of air acts as a cushion that keeps the throat muscles from collapsing due to OSA.

To determine the dosage setting a patient needs, a sleep therapist has to run an overnight test to monitor the patient. When the severity and pattern of the sleep apnea is determined, he or she can write a prescription for the use of a CPAP machine, and which setting it should be used.

CPAP machines are small in size and can be easily placed on top of a nightstand. The air is dispensed through a face mask or nasal pillow mask. The masks come in many different sizes and types, and you can choose which one works best for you.

Educate yourself with our Free Oxygen Therapy Guide

Oxygen Concentrators

An oxygen concentrator is a little more elaborate, in that it filters the air in the room to delivery oxygen. The purity of the oxygen in a medical oxygen concentrator is between 87 to 93%. It can also be delivered in two forms: pulse dose, and continuous flow.

A lung specialist will run several tests to see if you need to use oxygen therapy to treat lung disease. They will do an arterial blood gas test where blood is drawn, to see if your blood oxygen levels and carbon dioxide levels are out of balance. You will also do a spirometry test to test your lung function, as well as take chest x-rays.

Oxygen concentrators come in portable and home models. The portable models can run on DC, as well as AC power. The portable models are also much smaller and weigh less than most home oxygen concentrators, although many home models are coming in much smaller sizes.

CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators can also be used together if you have both sleep apnea and COPD.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

35 thoughts on “The Differences Between Oxygen Concentrators and CPAP Machines”

  • deepak

    want to buy

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason
      Danielle Jason May 16, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Wonderful, go ahead and give our Oxygen Specialists a call at 877-774-9271 and they'll be able to get you started!

      Reply
  • Gloria

    Is pure oxygen habit forming

    Reply
  • Lesley Andring
    Lesley Andring August 8, 2017 at 1:22 am

    How can you use oxygen and CPAP machine together?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason
      Danielle Jason August 8, 2017 at 1:37 am

      Thank you for your comment, Lesley. Go ahead and check out our blog post on How To Connect a CPAP Machine to Your Oxygen Concentrator. You can read that here: http://www.oxygenconcentratorstore.com/blog/connect-oxygen-concentrator-cpap-machine/

      Reply
  • Ara

    If you cannot tolerate CPAP for moderate sleep apnea, can you use an oxigen concentrator instead?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Ara. Although it is generally not recommended, some patients are able to use a higher flow rate on a continuous, stationary unit in place of their CPAP machine. Go ahead and reach out to one of our Oxygen Specialists at 877-774-9271 to discuss your options.

      Reply
  • Kate

    If the main problem with my sleep apnea is that my oxygen levels are dropping to 60 wouldn't it make more sense to get concentrated oxygen? The CPAP mask irritates my nostrils and I wake up congested and coughing. Usually rip it off a couple hours before I wake up. Wouldn't concentrated oxygen make more sense than just forced air if oxygen levels are the problem?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Kate. That is a question we would recommend you speak with your doctor regarding. If you currently feel your oxygen levels are dropping and you are not able to use your CPAP comfortably you may want to explore some other solutions with your dedicated physician.

      Reply
      • Steve

        Even though your answers or informative you really don’t answer the question you keep referring back to the position.
        Michael Jackson slept in an oxygen tank.
        If you could afford the oxygen option that go into your nostrils when it that have the same affect as a CPAP? I cannot wear the CPAP mask I’m non-compliant but I wear a fit bit and see that I wake up constantly throughout the night I’ve taken multiple sleep tests and they recommend the CPAP why don’t they recommend the nose inserted oxygen oxygen is better for your brain and continuous airflow that just keeps your throat open I would have rather have my brain and Hanst while my throat is open but I understand it cost five times this much but I’m OK with that.
        So do people use And oxygen machine in place of a CPAP and that you keep your throat open and feed you oxygen which I would imagine would help your brain

        Reply
        • Danielle Jason

          Thank you for your question, Steve. An oxygen concentrator does not preform the same medical functions as a CPAP machine as they are two different pieces of equipment used for separate medical conditions. A CPAP machine is used to keep your airways open with the force of air you're referring to, however, the air produced to keep your airways open is NOT concentrated oxygen, it is simply ambient air. It is important to note that a CPAP machine does not produce oxygen nor provide any for the wearer. If you medically require an oxygen concentrator due to your blood oxygen levels, you may need an oxygen therapy device such as an oxygen concentrator that would produce oxygen and benefit your brain function, among many other things. It is possible to use both a CPAP machine in conjunction with an oxygen machine should your medical needs require this. We suggest, as always, speaking to your doctor regarding your concerns and possible solutions.

          Reply
  • Vicky

    I have a CPAP ,my setting is 14 . When I get up in the morning I have a lot of flem to bring up also my nose runs crazy. What can I do ?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Vicky. This is a question you'll want to inquire with your doctor regarding. Your individual doctor will have the insight into your current and previous medical history to best assist you in finding a solution.

      Reply
    • Barbara Krause

      Hi Vicky! I had the same problem. Same setting of 14...runny nose and caused me to sneeze for a day. Talked with my doctor and asked if I could lower setting to 10. He reset my machine and I haven't had any problems since. Also, if your machine has a humidifier, try not using it. I have the Resmed S10 and I got the heated tube to keep the air warm and I don't put any water in the tank. It works great to me. Good luck!

      Reply
  • Teresa b seitz

    What is your title or credentials?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Teresa. Here at the Oxygen Concentrator Store by American Medical Sales and Rentals we have been an industry leader for over 17 years. We are proud to be one of the oldest and most experienced retailers in America. We pride ourselves on our ACHC accreditation with the Accreditation Commission for Health Care and currently hold a national BBB (Better Business Bureau) A+ rating.

      Reply
  • Ankit shah

    If i have severe asthama what should i buy bipap cpap or oxygen concentrator?

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your question, Ankit. That is not something we can answer for you as this is a question for your doctor. Depending on your individual past and present medical history, you may be prescribed solutions other than what you have listed above. Please consult your doctor.

      Reply
  • Dan De Ment

    I have a BPAP machine but can not use it as I have a chronic sinus condition and my nose runs a great deal. The BPAP is set at three (3) and the moisture that comes into my nose makes me feel like I'm drowning. Help!

    Reply
    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Dan. I am asumming you use a humidifier bottle? Have you tried using it without the bottle? This will eliminate the excess moisture coming in.

      Reply
  • Martha thompson
    Martha thompson April 22, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Using an oxygen concentrator at night for a COPD patient, but he breathes through his mouth most of the time.
    Is he still getting enough oxygen?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 23, 2018 at 5:31 am

      We recommend that you speak with your doctor. They can perform the right tests to access if he is getting the correct amount of oxygen.

      Reply
  • mkansas

    is there such a device using the oxygen concentrator tubes to use on a cpap machine? i cannot keep the cpap face mask on no matter how many mask i tried and it is off when i wake up. thank you

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman April 23, 2018 at 6:27 am

      Unfortunately, CPAP tubes are as large as they are to maintain pressure, regular cannula tubing is too small in diameter to create the air pressures that a CPAP uses to maintain an open airway and prevent apneas. I would consult with your doctor to see if there is another solution that may work for you.

      Reply
  • Sonya

    I have no health issues but I want some kind of oxygen machine because I want to breathe more oxygen at night (I heard it's good for you, gives you energy the next day, gives you brain power, etc.) Are these machines only medically prescribed or can anyone get one? Also, are oxygen concentrators more expensive than CPAPs?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 4, 2018 at 3:23 am

      Oxygen concentrators and CPAP machine are medical devices and therefore require a prescription for purchase. If you feel like you need oxygen please consult with your doctor.

      Reply
  • Pay

    It seems to me a cpap and oxygen concentrator serve the same function. Both blowing air through a filter .. The settings are different.

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 4, 2018 at 3:47 am

      The big difference is that a CPAP machine pushes a constant stream of air into the airways and not concentrated oxygen. Any oxygen concentrator provides medical grade oxygen.

      Reply
  • Lydia Annis

    I have tried ever CPAP mask offered and I can’t keep it on any longer the 3 Hours before I rip it off my face in the middle of the night...Would wearing just an oxygen nasal cannula and using a concentrator HELP in any way?

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman July 17, 2018 at 10:34 am

      This is something that you will need to consult with your doctor about. Using oxygen in place of a CPAP mask will not give you the same result. The purpose of a CPAP is to open up your airway but not to provide oxygen. An oxygen concentrator doesn't open your airways it only provides oxygen.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth

    I have severe apnea and just received machine but the nose pillow mask is not cutting it for me. I take abuterol for asthma and have lots of phelm and always waking up to spit and feeling congestions as if I have a bad cold what are my options at this point?.. I've been hiv for 25yrs still dealing with aches and body pain. Do you recommend getting into an oxygen machine that's available to kill all viruses being that nothing can't live in a pure Oxygen environment...any information or recommendation

    Reply
    • Margaret Goodman

      There are a number of mask styles available for sleep apnea. You will need to try them out to see what works best for you. We suggest talking with your doctor about the type of oxygen machine you might want to move in to. I have also passed your info on to an oxygen specialist who will reach out to you to discuss your needs. For more immediate assistance feel free to give our specialists a call at 888-360-9628 or if you prefer email [email protected]

      Reply

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