CPAP with Supplemental Oxygen

CPAP users that are also prescribed supplemental oxygen may find unique challenge in fulfilling both CPAP and supplemental oxygen therapy.  Supplemental oxygen may be required if the patient suffers from pulmonary disease or if it is determined through sleep studies that the patient has suboptimal levels of oxygen during sleep.

Patients that suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may require the use of supplemental oxygen throughout the day and night.  Oxygen is delivered through a nasal cannula or with an oxygen face mask.  Oxygen can be stored in gas cylinders or oxygen can come from a powered oxygen concentrator, which creates oxygen for continuous use. 

Patients that require CPAP therapy for obstructive sleep apnea but also require supplemental oxygen cannot wear both a CPAP mask and an oxygen mask or nasal cannula.  There are, however, solutions for these requirements.

Oxygen Add-On for CPAP

In order to incorporate oxygen into your CPAP therapy, there are a few supplies you’ll need: CPAP mask and machine, oxygen concentrator, CPAP tubing and oxygen tubing. But just like with your CPAP mask, there are several options available to you when adding oxygen to your nightly routine.

  • Option 1: Attach oxygen tubing directly to your CPAP mask. Many styles of CPAP mask come equipped with an oxygen port built in. This port is covered so all you have to do is remove its cap, attach oxygen tubing and use your CPAP mask as usual.
  • Option 2: Some styles of CPAP mask don’t have an oxygen port; in this case, you’ll need to get an oxygen enrichment attachment for your tubing connection. This will attach to the air outlet part on the CPAP machine first and then you will attach your regular CPAP tubing. The end results will be slightly longer tubing, then the oxygen is forced directly into the mask.

Safety First

It’s important to always put safety first when using any mechanical device during sleep. Oxygen, in particular, needs a little special consideration.

  • No open flames – oxygen is highly flammable, all you need is one tiny spark. Obviously, having a cigarette next to oxygen is a bad idea. Just don’t.
  • First turn on the CPAP machine – just as an added precaution, you should always turn on your CPAP machine FIRST and then turn on the oxygen. This can prevent a stray spark from igniting the oxygen.
  • One way air valve – using a one-way air valve ensures oxygen cannot flow back into the CPAP machine. This is called a CPAP Pressure Valve and it’s highly recommended when adding oxygen to CPAP therapy.

This combination of CPAP plus oxygen can be instrumental in helping your body get the rest necessary for optimal health and wellness. If at any time during CPAP therapy you feel things are uncomfortable – talk to your doctor, and together you can decide what options are available to you.

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