Comfort care is the main focus of the hospice philosophy. There are times during the disease progression that symptoms may occur that compromise the patient's comfort. Hospice uses medications and many other techniques to attempt to control these symptoms. Common symptoms that a person may experience are found below:
Pain comes in many different forms and encompasses many different facets of an individual. There can be physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual pain that can have physical consequences. As a result, it is important for the hospice team to determine the origin of pain to develop a solution to the problem. The hospice team is able to use medications, as well as other forms of pain relief to achieve good success.
It is normal for patients to experience anxiety over their current condition and fear about the dying process. An important job of the hospice team is to assess the cause and provide education on ways to reduce the anxiety. Many times medications and relaxation techniques are effective in treating anxiety-related symptoms.
Nausea or vomiting
Medications are generally used to control this symptom. A patient can also experiment with different liquids, foods, textures and flavors to achieve relief.
Constipation can be a result of medication taken for other symptoms, particularly narcotics. It is generally controlled with stool softeners, laxatives, suppositories, even diet. Even if a person is not eating, having a regular bowel movement is an important part of comfort management.
Dyspnea means shortness of breath or having difficulty breathing. Management of this symptom can include oxygen therapy, nebulizer or inhaler treatments and other medications, including those to relieve anxiety. It is considered helpful to have a fan going in the room, keep the room temperature cooler versus warmer, and apply cool cloths to the patient's forehead or the back of the neck.