Shortness of breath

Breathlessness, also called dyspnoea, is common at the end of life. Breathing may become uneven, change rhythm, and become noisy.

Your palliative care team will assess if something is causing the dyspnoea and manage it with medicine or practical measures, such as being placed near an open window, having a fan in the room or trying relaxation exercises. Adjusting your position in bed or sitting up slightly can also help.

Feeling breathless may make you feel distressed and anxious, and this is likely to make the breathlessness worse. Talk to your doctor about medicines that can ease your anxiety.

This information was last reviewed in January 2017
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