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.

12 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.


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