Connecting a CPAP machine to an Oxygen Concentrator

Many older adults who are on CPAP also may need supplemental oxygen.  Supplemental oxygen is typically required for people who are diagnosed with some form of pulmonary disease such as COPD, Emphysema or lung cancer.   It also may be the case that a CPAP user might need oxygen at night while asleep becomes of low blood oxygen levels.  Whatever the case, if supplemental oxygen is needed, a new or veteran user might run into challenges when purchasing an oxygen concentrator and connecting the concentrator to their CPAP machine.

If you already have a CPAP machine and must add supplemental oxygen to the circuit, it is important to understand a few facts about oxygen concentrators.  Oxygen concentrators are available in two types – portable and stationary.  Although stationary concentrators have traditionally been used for in home use, portable oxygen concentrators have gained significant popularity.  The differences are fairly obvious starting with the size and weight of the unit.  The stationary units are typically around 30-40lbs and fairly big. These concentrators are typically used for patients who require a higher flow rate.  These units can range up to 10 liters per minute with the EverFlow ranging from .5-5.0lpm.  The units either have attached canisters or oxygen tanks which are connected to an input valve.  Even though these units are bulky and cumbersome, they are most prominently for in-home use and perform exceptionally well.

Portable oxygen concentrators (POC) are quickly becoming the popular choice especially for people looking to be more independent and active.  These concentrators are much smaller and lighter than traditional stationary concentrators.  In fact, they are designed specifically to travel with portability and mobility the key components.  If you are not capable of carrying the POC with a shoulder strap, it can be wheeled in a small cart with no trouble at all.  With portability comes the need for battery power.  These POC’s can be used by connecting into an automobile cigarette lighter outlet or a stand-alone lithium ion rechargeable battery.   Most are even cleared by the FAA to travel with you by plane.  Another primary difference between the stationary and POC is how they work.  Instead of a canister or oxygen cylinder, these POC’s pull air into the device, through a series of filters and remove Nitrogen.  What is left is nearly pure oxygen which is then delivered to the user through a cannula.


Connecting to your CPAP machine

Incorporating oxygen into your CPAP therapy is a fairly routine procedure.  As mentioned, many CPAP users need oxygen and with a few slight adjustments, can add oxygen directly into the circuit.  There are typically two ways to incorporate oxygen into your CPAP therapy.  Firstly, check your CPAP mask.  Many CPAP masks come with an oxygen port already built into the frame.  It will most likely have a cap on it so air isn’t escaping during CPAP use.  If an oxygen port exists on the frame, simply connect the oxygen tubing directly to the port and use normally.  Many newer style nasal pillow masks don’t have such a port.

Oxygen Port on CPAP mask frame

If your CPAP mask does not have an oxygen port, no need to switch masks.  It’s important to use a CPAP mask which is comfortable.  In this case, a bleed adaptor or tubing with an oxygen bleed line would be necessary.  These bleed adaptors add oxygen directly into the circuit and are typically connected between the CPAP machine and the CPAP tubing.  As you can see from the picture, the oxygen tubing connects into the port and feeds the air inside the CPAP tube.  These are inexpensive items and would recommend keeping several available in case of emergency.


Oxygen Bleed Adaptor

Adding oxygen to CPAP therapy is a simple procedure no matter what equipment you are currently using.  As always, it is necessary to speak with your doctor to insure proper compliance.  Whatever the situation, it is important to become knowledgeable about the products you are using. If a certain piece of CPAP or Oxygen equipment is not working for you, don’t hesitate to switch to something more suitable for you.  As always, we are available to answer your questions concerning CPAP and Oxygen supplies.

For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog.  It is constantly updated and offers free advice and information.  If you’d like to learn more about the quality sleep apnea products we carry, or if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to call us at (866) 414-9700, or you can contact us through our website contact form