Evidence-Based Practice

Dyspnea and Delirium at the End of Life

Barton Bobb

dyspnea, delirium, end-of-life care
CJON 2016, 20(3), 244-246. DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.244-246

Dyspnea and delirium are potentially distressing symptoms for patients with cancer at the end of life. They require aggressive management and sometimes even palliative sedation for refractory cases in actively dying patients. This article provides oncology nurses with evidence-based advice on the management of these symptoms.

At a Glance

  • Dyspnea and delirium are two common symptoms in patients with cancer at the end of life.
  • Systemic opioids are the primary pharmacologic treatment for the symptomatic treatment of dyspnea.
  • Haloperidol (Haldol®) and chlorpromazine (Thorazine®) are the most commonly used pharmacologic treatments for delirium. Benzodiazepines are used as palliative sedation for refractory delirium in dying patients.
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