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The Differences Between Oxygen Concentrators and CPAP Machines

If you have low blood oxygen levels, you might get an oxygen concentrator prescribed for your condition. Both oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines treat breathing issues, but they are quite different. So, to help you understand how these two devices differ, we’ve decided to show you all the nuances and specific applications for both oxygen concentrators and CPAP machines.

A CPAP Machine

A continuous positive airway pressure device works by setting a constant stream of air into motion. The stream of air is gentle and goes into your airway via a facial mask. So, CPAP therapy is suitable for people with obstructive sleep apnea as it prevents the throat muscles to collapse during sleep. A CPAP machine is a small and compact device which can easily be placed on a small table or a nightstand and can also be used when travelling. These machines gently pressurize the air and work towards minimizing the common restriction of the airway.

When planning to purchase a CPAP machine, you should take certain things into consideration. Hence, you should get a highly rated model which offers excellent performance and reliability. Additionally, make sure the model you pick has a battery backup and is quiet and lightweight. Make sure you get a portable model which is FAA certified, which will make travelling with your CPAP machine a hassle-free process.

However, CPAP machines aren’t the only devices available for PAP therapy. So, there are also BiPAP and APAP machines which can also effectively treat sleep apnea. If you don’t know which PAP therapy machine you need, note that:

  • CPAP machine stands for ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure’ and provides therapy air at only one pressure.
  • APAP machine stands for ‘Automatic Positive Airway Pressure’ and provides therapy air at variable pressures. So, the machine evaluates the required pressure every time you take a breath and adjusts it according to your needs at the time.
  • BiPAP machine stands for ‘BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure’ and provides therapy air at two distinct pressures. This machine is designed to treat specific sleep disorders, such as central sleep apnea and respiratory conditions.

Nevertheless, besides these CPAP devices, there is also one other important machine which can provide comfort if you have an obstructive respiratory disorder.

An Oxygen Concentrator

An oxygen concentrator is a device which works quite similarly to a CPAP device, but is slightly more elaborate in design. This device filters the room air actively and introduces it to your airway through a flexible tube. It provides 87% to 93% pure oxygen, which can be delivered in two ways, by a continuous stream of air, also known as continuous flow, or in small measured amount, called pulse flow. Thus, many people who have the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are required to use an oxygen concentrator, especially if their condition is severe.

However, oxygen concentrators require the use of a number of filters, an onboard compressor, and a bunch of electronics, which makes them bulky. Oxygen concentrators take the air from the environment you put them in, compress that air and deliver reliable pressure. The user gets a clean and healthy airflow as the air is purified and there are minimal nitrogen levels. The device comes with a cooling feature which prevents overheating of the compressor, especially during extended use.

The device features an electronic interface, which provides a reliable delivery due to an automatic adjustment of the airflow. The air is usually delivered through a nasal tubing system or a comfortable mask to provide the much-needed oxygen for people suffering from certain respiratory health issues.

Some of the most important features you have to consider when buying an oxygen concentrator include its capacity, the battery longevity, the noise level, and whether it provides pulse dose or continuous flow. It’s important to note that all continuous flow models are heavy, while pulse flow alternatives weigh very little. Last but not least, you should check whether the device is portable, especially if you have an active lifestyle.

The Differences Between Oxygen Concentrators and CPAP Machines

Oxygen concentrators create pure oxygen from the surrounding air and enable users to reduce or eliminate the reliance on tanked oxygen. People who need supplemental oxygen on a daily basis find these devices extremely useful. However, not every person is in the need for supplemental oxygen. In fact, supplemental oxygen is necessary for people who have emphysema, COPD, or some other respiratory condition where the lungs cannot provide enough oxygen. Oxygen concentrators are only available by prescription.

With CPAP therapy for obstructive sleep apnea, the nightly airway obstruction is removed and the lungs can increase blood oxygen content to acceptable levels with just the outside air. So, if the CPAP therapy is successful, a person won’t need supplemental oxygen. On the other hand, if the therapy doesn’t seem to work for you, your physician will adjust the treatment itself as supplemental oxygen is neither a substitute nor a replacement for CPAP therapy.

Both CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators are important and useful devices which can help in enhancing the health of people who suffer from respiratory issues. In fact, many CPAP machines can be enhanced by adding an oxygen concentrator.

Using a CPAP machine with oxygen concentrator might be necessary is a person suffers from emphysema or COPD and sleep apnea. Hence, these patients might require getting oxygen therapy while using a CPAP machine. The therapy will require only slight modifications so that the oxygen tubing is placed into the CPAP mask. Hence, users can reap the benefits of both therapies during sleep. In fact, many CPAP masks feature a hole which is specially designed for the flow of oxygen from a concentrator. However, if the mask a user has doesn’t have such a port, the concentrator can be connected to the CPAP hose with an oxygen enrichment adapter.

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