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Blog mainpage / Living, Surgery / When to change or replace your HME 

12 March 2023

When to change or replace your HME 

When do I change my HME

At this stage, you may have had an introduction of how to use an HME at hospital. When leaving the hospital you will receive a coming home kit that will include a number of HMEs and attachments to help you grow accustomed to wearing an HME.  

Your stoma lead directly to your lungs, so it is important to keep it covered with an HME. An HME must be replaced at least every 24 hours in order to maintain its effectiveness and to prevent the growth of microorganisms. 

How do I know when to change an HME 

HMEs are single-use devices that should be used once and always replaced at least every 24 hours. But there are times that you will need to remove and change the HME during the day. There is a range of HMEs for different situations and you will want to change your HME depending on the situation. 

However there are times when you will need to change your HME to ensure you get the best performance.  

Change your HME if it becomes clogged with mucus 

You should change your HME if mucus gets inside and clogs the foam. It is important to also keep your stoma clean and free of mucus. Specific instructions on cleaning stoma. You should not clean the area with anything that is small enough to fall into your stoma.  

If you notice any secretions on your HME, you should wipe them off but never rinse them off with water. HMEs are non-reusable and cannot be rinsed in water or any other solution as this washes out the special salt that is essential for HME effectiveness.  

The urge to cough 

At times you may feel the urge to cough. When this happens, you should remove your HME and cover your stoma with a lint-free tissue or handkerchief. If you weren’t able to remove the HME in time, simply remove your HME once you finish coughing and wipe the back clean with a tissue or handkerchief. To maintain hygiene when you are handling your HME, ensure that your hands are clean to avoid contaminating the HME with bacteria. If you think the HME has been contaminated you should replace it with a new HME.  

When you leave home, it is important to take some new HMEs with you as well as cleaning products. You may need to change your HME and clean your stoma. 

In summary: 

  • HMEs are single-use devices – replace them at least every 24 hours 
  • An HME is non-reusable 
  • Change your HME it if it becomes clogged with mucus 
  • Do not rinse the HME in water or any other solution 
  • Wipe off any secretions that may have collected on your HME 

1. van den Boer C, Vas Nunes JH, Muller SH, van dN, V, van den Brekel MW, Hilgers FJ. Water Uptake Performance of Hygroscopic Heat and Moisture Exchangers after 24-Hour Tracheostoma Application. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014;150(6):999-1004.

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