Heat and Moisture Exchangers (HMEs)
Heat-Moisture Exchangers (HMEs)
o Restores temperature, moisture and cleanliness of inhaled air
o Raises humidity and warms the air you breathe
o Protects stoma from foreign objects
o Increases moisture in lungs
Everyone with a stoma should wear an HME. An HME (Heat/Moisture Exchange) assists in restoring the temperature, moisture and cleanliness of the inhaled air to the same condition as before your tracheostomy. The HME filter raises the humidity and heat of the air you breathe by temporarily storing both in the filter when you exhale, and returning it to the lungs when you inhale again. They also serve as excellent stoma protection to prevent foreign objects such as bugs, powder, perfumes, etc. from entering your stoma.
HME advantages also include: increasing the moisture within the lungs (subsequently leading to less mucus production), decreasing the viscosity of the airway secretions, decreasing risk of mucus plugs, and re-instating the normal airway resistance to the inhaled air which preserves the lung capacity.
HME cassettes are designed to be removed and replaced on a daily basis. The foam in the cassettes is treated with agents hat have antimicrobial properties and help to retain moisture in the lungs. They should not be washed and reused because these agent lose their effectiveness over time or when rinsed by water or other cleaning agents.
Some HMEs are combined with a speaking valve (not for laryngectomy patients).
HME devices with a lower airflow resistance make them suitable for physical exercise or when adapting to the breathing resistance for patients that have not used any stoma protection before and start using an HME or have not used an HME for a longer time.
HME High Flow devices have a lower airflow resistance making them suitable for physical exercise or when adapting to the breathing resistance for patients that have not used any stoma protection before and start using an HME or have not used an HME for a longer time.
If you are a laryngectomy patient, it is important to choose the right adhesive base plate for your HME.
A hands-free HME enables laryngectomy patients with a voice prosthesis to speak without requiring finger occlusion. It consists of a combination of HME and a speaking valve, which closes automatically when exhaling air for speaking, enabling the pulmonary air to be diverted through the voice prosthesis into the esophagus. It reopens automatically during inhalation.