A caregiver's guide to helping a loved one under hospice care with the symptoms of trouble with breathing.
What are some Symptoms of Trouble with Breathing?
Feeling unable to “Catch my breath”
“Not getting enough air”
Feeling like “suffocating”
Pauses between breaths
Feeling like the “room is closing in”
Fear or anxiety
Congestion or “rattling in chest”
What can be done to Manage Trouble with Breathing?
Use medications and oxygen as instructed by the care team
Treat other concerns that may be causing trouble with breathing, such as anxiety or pain
Control secretions through coughing and deep breathing; stay hydrated
Focus on breathing technique by taking slow, deep breaths or using breathing exercises
Exercise One: Breathe in through the nose for two counts, pucker lips and exhale slowly through the mouth
Exercise Two: Sit in a comfortable position with hands resting on stomach. Inhale slowly through the nose and feel the stomach muscle relax. Then, tighten the stomach muscle and exhale slowly through pursed lips.
Increase air movement in the room by using windows or fans
Fan the face
Avoid environmental allergens, smoke and pollution
A cooler room often helps
Keep cool by applying cool washcloths to the face
Provide calm, quiet reassurance through presence
Elevate the head; sometimes leaning forward resting elbows on table can help
Conserve energy, plan activities that will decrease exertion
What are some of the Side Effects of Treating Trouble with Breathing?
Sleepiness from certain medications
Tremors, nervousness or increased heart rate from certain medications
If Trouble with Breathing is not managed or medication side effects do not improve, notify the hospice team.
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