I Can’t Catch My Breath

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.

You may also contact Dr. Leslie Estep or Dr. Anita Meyer at Hospice of the Northwest, 360-814-5550, or lestep@hospicenw.org or ameyer@hospicenw.org.

All Palliative Pearls and other resources can be found by clicking Healthcare Professionals at the top of our website.

If you would prefer not to receive monthly Palliative Pearls, please email pputney@hospicenw.org.

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