Dyspnea

Author: Jeanette G. Ferrer, DO

Overview

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.

 

Management

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:

 

References

Bruera, E. & Elsayem, E. (2008). The MD Anderson Supportive and Palliative Care Handbook. Houston, Texas.

Doyle, D., Hanks, G.,Cherny, N., et al. (2003). Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, Third edition. Edinburgh, UK: Oxford University Press.

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.