CPAP vs. Oxygen Concentrator: Understanding the Differences and When You Might Need Both

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and oxygen concentrators are both medical devices used to improve breathing, but they serve distinct purposes. This blog post from TTLIFE, a leading provider of respiratory equipment, dives into the functionalities of CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators, explores the scenarios where using them together might be necessary, and helps you understand who might benefit from this combined therapy.


Understanding CPAP Machines

CPAP machines are commonly prescribed for people with sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. CPAP therapy uses mild air pressure delivered through a mask to keep your airway open, preventing these breathing interruptions and promoting restful sleep.


Key characteristics of CPAP machines

  • Delivers continuous positive air pressure to keep the airway open.
  • Typically prescribed for treating sleep apnea.
  • May come with various mask options to fit comfortably.
  • Generally quiet during operation.


Understanding Oxygen Concentrators

Oxygen concentrators are healthcare devices that draw in ambient air, filter out nitrogen, and concentrate the oxygen content. This concentrated oxygen is then delivered through a nasal cannula or mask to increase the amount of oxygen your body receives.


Key characteristics of oxygen concentrators

  • Delivers supplemental oxygen to increase blood oxygen levels.
  • Prescribed for various respiratory conditions like COPD, emphysema, and pneumonia.
  • May offer continuous or pulse flow options depending on the model.
  • Operates with a low hum.


Can CPAP and Oxygen Concentrators Be Used Together?

While CPAP and oxygen concentrators address different breathing concerns, they can sometimes be used in conjunction to optimize treatment for certain individuals. Here are some scenarios where combining these therapies might be beneficial:

  • CPAP with Overlapping Hypoxemia: In some cases, people with sleep apnea may also experience hypoxemia, a condition where the blood oxygen level falls below the normal range. 

  • CPAP for Patients Transitioning Off Oxygen: For some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions who require oxygen therapy, CPAP can be a helpful tool when weaning off oxygen dependence.

  • CPAP for High-Altitude Sleep Apnea: For individuals with sleep apnea who travel to high altitudes, where the air is thinner and contains less oxygen, using a CPAP machine with supplemental oxygen can be crucial to ensure adequate oxygen levels during sleep at high elevations.


Who Needs CPAP and Oxygen Therapy Together?

The decision to combine CPAP and oxygen therapy should be based on your individual needs and medical history. Here are some factors that needs to be consider:

  • Sleep study results: A sleep study will assess your sleep apnea severity and identify any potential oxygen desaturation issues during sleep.

  • Blood oxygen levels: Arterial blood gas (ABG) testing will measure your blood oxygen levels to determine if supplemental oxygen is necessary.

  • Underlying respiratory conditions: If you have a chronic respiratory condition like COPD that contributes to low blood oxygen levels, combining CPAP with oxygen therapy might be recommended.


Benefits of Using CPAP and Oxygen Therapy Together

When used properly, combining CPAP and oxygen therapy can offer several benefits:

  • Improved Sleep Quality: By addressing both sleep apnea and low blood oxygen levels, this combined therapy can promote deeper, more restful sleep.

  • Reduced Daytime Sleepiness: Better sleep quality can lead to increased alertness and reduced daytime fatigue often associated with sleep apnea and hypoxemia.

  • Improved Overall Health: Maintaining healthy blood oxygen levels can be crucial for various bodily functions and overall health.


Main Differences Between CPAP and Oxygen Concentrators

While both CPAP and oxygen concentrators play a role in respiratory health, they address distinct needs:

Feature CPAP Machine Oxygen Concentrator
Primary Function Keeps airway open during sleep (prevents apnea events) Increases oxygen concentration in inhaled air
Treatment Focus Sleep apnea Low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia)
Air Pressure Delivers constant positive airway pressure (CPAP) No change in air pressure
Oxygen Concentration Doesn't alter oxygen content in inhaled air Delivers concentrated oxygen (typically 87%-93% pure)
Applications Sleep apnea, snoring COPD, CHF, pneumonia, sleep apnea with hypoxemia
Noise Level Varies depending on model, generally quiet <27 dB Varies depending on model, Home Oxygen Concentrator < 42dB,
Portable Oxygen Concentrator <58dB
Portability Stationary; some travel models available Stationary and portable models available


Table Comparison Summary

  • CPAP machines are specifically designed for sleep apnea by delivering continuous positive airway pressure to keep the airway open and prevent breathing interruptions. They do not alter the oxygen content in the inhaled air.
  • Oxygen concentrators are used to address low blood oxygen levels (hypoxemia) by enriching the air with concentrated oxygen. They do not address airway obstruction issues like sleep apnea.


Features to Consider When Choosing the Right Equipment

TTLIFE can be your trusted partner in finding the right equipment. We offer a wide selection of both CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators from leading manufacturers. Here's a look at some of the key considerations when choosing this equipment:

  • CPAP Machine Selection:

    • Features: CPAP machines come with various features like pressure adjustment settings, data tracking capabilities, and heated humidifiers. 
    • Comfort: The CPAP mask plays a crucial role in comfort and adherence to therapy. 
  • Oxygen Concentrator Selection:

    • Flow Rate: The oxygen concentrator's flow rate determines the amount of oxygen it can deliver per minute. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate flow rate based on your individual needs.
    • Portability: If you require oxygen therapy during travel or while on the go, a portable oxygen concentrator might be a good option. TTLIFE offers a range of portable concentrators with varying weights and battery life options to suit your needs.
    • Noise Level: Consider the noise level of the oxygen concentrator, especially if you plan to use it at night. TTLIFE offers quiet oxygen concentrators that minimize sleep disruption.

Additional Considerations:

  • Insurance Coverage: Many insurance plans cover CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators. TTLIFE can assist you in verifying your insurance coverage and navigating the insurance approval process.
  • Ongoing Support: Choosing a reliable supplier like TTLIFE ensures you have access to ongoing support and troubleshooting assistance throughout your therapy journey. Our knowledgeable staff is here to answer your questions and address any concerns you might have.



Understanding the difference between CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators is crucial for individuals with sleep apnea and potential oxygen deficiency. While CPAP therapy effectively addresses sleep apnea by keeping the airway open, in some cases, combining it with supplemental oxygen therapy from an oxygen concentrator might be necessary to maintain healthy blood oxygen levels during sleep.


Looking for a CPAP Machine or Oxygen Concentrator?


TTLIFE offers a wide range of oxygen concentrators from leading manufacturers and will soon launch its own CPAP machines. Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the right equipment to meet your specific needs. Visit our website or contact us today to learn more!