BREATHLENESS

Due to palliative care conditions or anxiety

Management

Non-drug treatment

  • Reassure patient; explore patient’s fears and anxieties; anxiety worsens condition
  • Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques; teach patient how to slow down breathing by
    pursing their lips and breathe with diaphragm rather than chest
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Position patient in most comfortable position in bed
  • Ensure good ventilation (e.g. open windows, use fans, loosen tight clothing)
  • Conserve energy (e.g. encourage exertion to breathlessness)
  • Refer if symptoms persist, in airway obstruction, or need for pleurodesis

Medicines

  • Oral morphine 2.5-5 mg every 4 hours
  • Oxygen if patient is hypoxic
  • Diazepam if patient is anxious
    • Diazepam 2.5-5 mg orally; once a day if breathlessness is associated with panic attacks