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 help your body properly adapt.
The function of our lungs
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.
Our lungs need warm and moist air
Before a laryngectomy, you breathe through your nose and/or mouth and throat, in what is 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 98.6 degrees and 99% relative 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.
Why wearing an HME is important
By using a Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME), you can help to compensate for the loss of upper airway function in your nose, mouth and throat. An HME will heat and moisten inhaled air, to help improve 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 are doing. We recommend using:
- Provox XtraFlow when you are active (e.g. taking a walk or going shopping).
- Provox XtraMoist during periods of lower activity (e.g. relaxing at home, cooking or watching TV).
- Provox Micron to help protect you from bacteria, viruses or particles (e.g. when traveling, during flu season or when gardening)
- Provox Luna as a nighttime solution, designed for more comfort while you sleep.
It is important to use an HME 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to fully experience the benefits.