What’s the Difference Between an Oxygen Concentrator and a CPAP Machine?

Jan 10, 2023

What’s the Difference Between an Oxygen Concentrator and a CPAP Machine?

Oxygen therapy is often used alongside CPAP therapy, which may make you wonder if there’s a difference between a CPAP machine and an oxygen concentrator. The short answer is yes — these two medical treatments are not the same and can be used independently of each other.

s a CPAP device the same as an oxygen concentrator? When should you use oxygen therapy? How does a CPAP machine work? We’re here to answer all these questions and more. Keep reading below to learn about the differences between CPAP machines and oxygen systems.

Oxygen therapy

Doctors prescribe oxygen therapy for patients who aren’t receiving the right amount of oxygen. Supplemental oxygen is commonly supplied via an oxygen tank or an oxygen concentrator. This therapy can be used to treat a variety of health conditions, such as:

  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • COPD
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Viral infections such as COVID-19
  • Cancers such as lung cancer

Delivering oxygen therapy

There are several ways to deliver oxygen to patients, but an oxygen concentrator is one of the most popular options. Oxygen concentrators are available in both larger, at-home models and smaller, more portable systems. These machines work by converting the air around the patient into pure oxygen, which is then delivered via medical tubing and a nasal cannula or mask.

CPAP therapy

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This treatment is used for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that occurs when a patient’s throat muscles collapse and block their airway during sleep.

Delivering CPAP treatments

So, what is a CPAP machine? There are many types of CPAP devices, and each one works by delivering a consistent flow of pressurised air to help keep the patient’s airway open and ensure that enough oxygen is reaching the brain.

Standard CPAP machines provide this fixed flow of air and offer various additions — such as humidifiers — to help ensure the patient’s comfort. These machines are also available in travel sizes, providing a conveniently compact device that makes it easier to receive treatment away from home.

BiPAP machines are also available for patients with more severe sleep apnoea. Rather than just providing pressurised air on a fixed pressure setting, BiPAP machines offer two settings for both inhalation and exhalation.

Are CPAP machines oxygen concentrators?

Even though they may be mistaken for an oxygen system, CPAP machines are not oxygen concentrators. Rather than dispensing pure oxygen, CPAP machines simply provide pressurised air. A CPAP machine cannot replace an oxygen concentrator or another oxygen system, as it cannot provide oxygen therapy.

How to connect a CPAP machine to an oxygen concentrator

A CPAP machine is not an oxygen concentrator, but it can be connected to one to deliver dual treatments. This should only be done if a doctor prescribes it and if you are using a continuous oxygen setting on your oxygen concentrator.

To connect your CPAP device to an oxygen concentrator, you first need to ensure that the CPAP mask you are using has a bleed-in port that will allow you to connect the oxygen tubing to the mask.

If your mask does not have this port, you may be able to use an oxygen bleed-in adapter between your CPAP machine and CPAP tubing. Once the adapter is in place, you can attach the oxygen tubing and connect the systems.

Once the systems are connected, turn the CPAP machine on first, followed by the oxygen concentrator. When finished with the treatment, turn the oxygen concentrator off first, followed by the CPAP device.

The difference between oxygen and CPAP devices

So, is an oxygen concentrator the same as a CPAP machine? While both may be used to treat certain respiratory conditions and sleep disorders, the oxygen therapy system is much more versatile and can be used to treat conditions that require supplemental oxygen.

Additionally, oxygen machines — especially oxygen cylinders — can pose a significant safety hazard and require careful handling, while the most significant concern with a CPAP machine is that it may have mildew if not cleaned regularly.

Some patients do require both types of treatment. In these cases, the CPAP machine can be used in conjunction with an oxygen system to provide both treatments simultaneously.

Discover our collection of medical supplies at Mega Medical

If you’re searching for high-quality medical equipment, machines or supplies for your practice, visit us at Mega Medical today. We’re proud to be one of Australia’s leading providers of medical equipment consumables, offering everything from medical gases to single-use medical supplies.

Need assistance finding the right product? Have any questions about CPAP devices or oxygen systems? We’re always happy to help; reach out to our friendly team today on 1300 881 824.