A laryngectomy changes the way your lungs function. Luckily, different medical devices and aids have been developed over the years to reduce the negative side effects and ensure your body can properly adapt.
Your lungs are vital organs. By inhaling air, life-giving oxygen enters the lungs and is transferred into your blood. By exhaling air, carbon dioxide is released from the blood and expelled from the body.
Before a laryngectomy, you breathe through your nose and/or mouth and throat, in what’s known as the upper airways. These upper airways – in particular the nose – condition the air you breathe. The inhaled air is heated, humidified and filtered. By the time the air reaches your lungs it has a body temperature of 37 degrees and 100% humidity, which is the level of moisture required for optimal lung function.
After your operation, you will breathe through a stoma in your neck instead of through your nose. Therefore the inhaled air is no longer optimally heated and humidified before it reaches your windpipe and lungs.
As a reaction to inhaling unconditioned air (if it is too cold and too dry), your windpipe and lungs will start to produce more mucus. This means more coughing and a higher risk of contracting airway infections.
By using a Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME), you can compensate for the loss of upper airway function in your nose, mouth and throat. An HME will heat, moisten and filter inhaled air, improving the overall health of your lungs.
We’ve designed our HMEs to work in different situations, depending on the time of day and what you’re doing. We recommend using:
It is important to use an HME 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to fully experience the benefits.