Fear is a major component of the suffering patients feel when breathless. Consider our Breathlessness Action Plan to help palliative-care-minded patients and families with the anxiety.
Stay calm: Quiet the room. Speak slowly in a calm voice.
Reposition: Usually sitting upright or leaning forward with weight on arms/elbows helps.
Fan: Turn a fan to the face. Open a window.
Oxygen: Place oxygen or turn up the flow. Turn it back down after recovery. Check that oxygen is turned on and tubing is connected.
Breathing: Encourage in-breath through the nose and out-breath through pursed lips.
Relaxation: Use techniques that help quiet the mind and reduce fear: music, prayer or mantra.
Medications: Morphine sulfate concentrated oral liquid 5 mg (0.25 ml) or the equivalent given every three hours as needed for breathlessness is very helpful!
For more information, please see the Hospice Breathlessness Management Tip Sheet.
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