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.
1. When you breathe out through your stoma, the foam collects and saves the humidity and warm air.
2. When you breathe in, the humidity and warm air that are saved in the foam are given back to the air you breathe in.
In other words, an HME ‘conditions’ the air you breathe keeping it at the right temperature and humidity. This helps to support your lungs to function well. Never wash or rinse out your HME as it will render the HME ineffective.
Starting to use an HME
Wear your HME all the time to see the best benefits. 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.
If you feel like you are going to cough, remove your HME and cover your stoma with a lint-free tissue. Sometimes, there is not enough time to remove your HME before you cough. You may need to replace your HME if mucus gets inside your HME.
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
Many people find that wearing an HME all the time can help them live a better life and go back to doing many of the things they did before their surgery. This is because an HME helps them produce less mucus, cough less, feel less irritation in their windpipe, and breathe more easily.
There are different types of HMEs specially designed to work better in different situations.
Using an HME during the Day
The Provox Life Home HME is designed to improve your lung health when you are taking it easy. This HME provides high humidification with comfortable breathing throughout the day.
The Provox Life Go HME makes it easier to breathe when you are out and about or engaged in your daily activities. This HME has a low profile and a smooth rounded form, for a more discreet look when going out.
Using an HME during the Night
Now we’ve come to one of the most important times of the day: going to sleep. A good night’s sleep will help you have a better day. So, before you go to bed, switching to Provox Life Night HME helps reduce coughing for more comfortable nights.