Heat and Moisture Exchangers (HMEs) help to reduce mucus production and coughing by humidifying and filtering the air you breathe through your stoma. Atos Medical supplies a number of different HMEs that are designed to suit different lifestyles.
Why use a Heat and Moisture Exchanger?
After a total laryngectomy, you breathe through the stoma in your neck. This means the air that reaches your lungs is cooler and less humid than it should be. Your lungs react by producing more mucus, and your windpipe can feel irritated. You may start to cough a lot and have to clean your stoma more regularly, which can be uncomfortable to do in public. Most people find that wearing HMEs can help.
Watch this video about what happens inside your lungs when you are using an HME and when you are not using an HME.
How it works
The HME sits over your stoma as you breathe through it, warming up the air and making it more moist in the process. It does this by “catching” the heat and humidity of exhaled air, and then transferring it to the air you inhale. 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.
The foam is treated with a salt called calcium chloride (not kitchen salt).
When you breathe out through your stoma, the foam collects and saves the humidity and warm air.
When you breathe in, the humidity and warm air that are saved in the foam are given back to the air you breathe in.
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.
Provox XtraFlow HME - 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.
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.
Learn more about Provox XtraFlow HME and Provox XtraMoist HME
Provox Micron - 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). Learn more about Provox Micron here.
Provox FreeHands Flexivoice HME - For speaking hands-free
If you use a voice prosthesis, we’ve created the Provox FreeHands FlexiVoice (link to product). It combines a special valve with an HME to give you the freedom to speak hands-free. You can choose from two different options for the HME, which work better for different kinds of activities. If you’re feeling active, you should consider the ‘Flow’ HME, whereas if you’re relaxing, we recommend the ‘Moist’ option
Provox Luna - The best nighttime solution
You should never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. That’s why before you go to bed, we recommend switching to the Provox Luna. It keeps the air humid to help your lungs prepare for the day ahead. It’s easy to breathe through and specially designed to avoid any discomfort. “I absolutely love the Luna at night. I’m sleeping much better, it’s more comfortable and there’s far less secretion.” “When I saw the Luna I thought it would be good, I just didn’t realize it would be this good!” The Provox Luna has a smaller ring, making it more comfortable to sleep in. It also features a special ‘hydrogel,’ which has a soothing, cooling effect. You might notice your skin feels less irritated, particularly when it comes to waking up and wearing your daytime adhesive.