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.

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.

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

  • deepak

    want to buy

    • 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!

  • Gloria

    Is pure oxygen habit forming

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

    How can you use oxygen and CPAP machine together?

    • 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:

  • Ara

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

    • 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.


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