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The Differences Between Oxygen Concentrators and CPAP Machines

Jan 10, 2019

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 continuous flow of oxygen at 5 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  be delivered in  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.