Author: Jeanette G. Ferrer, DO


Dyspnea is a subjective sensation of difficulty breathing.

Dyspnea is one of the most common symptoms encountered at the end of life.

The causes are multi-dimensional including:

Anxiety, fear of impending death and pain contribute to the subjective symptoms of dyspnea.



Step 1: 
Assess intensity via subjective report, visual analog scale, and physical examination. Other evaluation tools include pulse oximetry and if indicated Chest X-Ray.

Step 2:
Treatment of underlying causes as indicated: Step 3:
Symptomatic measures may include the following:



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Viola, R., Kileley,C., Lloyd, N.S., Mackay, J.A. et al. (2008). The management of dyspnea in cancer patients: A systematic review. Support Care Cancer;16:329-337.