A Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME) helps to reduce mucus production and coughing by humidifying and filtering the air you breathe through your stoma.
What is an HME?
An HME is placed directly over your stoma, and as air is exhaled, heat and moisture from your breath are captured in the HME. The heat and moisture are added back to the air you inhale before it passes to your lungs. HMEs add slight resistance to breathing to help your lungs function well.
HMEs also help keep large particles out of your lungs, such as insects or food crumbs. It is important to use an HME 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most people who consistently use a Provox Life HME 24/7 experience fewer problems with coughing and mucus production.
How does an HME work?
An HME contains a foam that has been treated with a special compound called, calcium chloride. This traps heat and moisture from the air you breathe out and transfers it to the air you breathe in. This helps to support healthy lungs.
In other words, an HME ‘conditions’ the air you breathe keeping it at the right temperature and humidity for your lungs to function well.
Starting to use an HME
If you feel like you are going to cough, remove your HME and cover your stoma with a lint-free tissue or handkerchief. Sometimes, there is not enough time to remove your HME before you cough. In that case, remove the HME once you finish coughing and wipe the back clean with the tissue or handkerchief. If mucus gets inside your HME, use a new one. Never wash or rinse out your HME as it will render the HME ineffective.
To really see the benefits of your HME, you need to wear it all the time. If you haven’t used an HME before, your lungs may start to produce more mucus. This is completely normal and will settle down within a couple of weeks once your lungs have adapted to the new HME filter.
Speaking with an HME
If you use a voice prosthesis, simply press the HME lid to speak. The device helps you breathe more easily, which is important as you pause between longer sentences.
Different HMEs for different situations
We’ve designed our HMEs to work in different situations, depending on the time of day and what you’re doing.
The best HME for active users
Being “active” means different things to different people. It might mean going for a walk, or it could be those times when you’re out socializing with friends and talking more than usual.
The Provox XtraFlow HME makes breathing easier by keeping the air you breathe humid when you’re physically active. It’s very good at keeping mucus to a minimum and helping you cough less, while being discreet, so you won’t feel as self-conscious of it in social situations. It’s also simple to use with a voice prosthesis – just press the lid to speak.
The best HME for taking it easy
You’re not always “on the go” during the day. Sometimes you want to relax and take things at a slower pace. That might be when you first get up to read the newspaper, or perhaps as you’re preparing a meal.
In which case, we recommend the Provox XtraMoist HME. It keeps the air extra humid and is comfortable to breathe through. It works in a similar way to keep coughing and mucus to a minimum, while being discreet in its design and simple to use with a voice prosthesis.
The best HME for protection
The Provox Micron is designed to protect you when you’re out and about, either around lots of people where bacteria and viruses may be a problem, or if the air isn’t particularly clean (e.g. filtering out pollen if you’re working in the garden).