Palliative Care: Breathing Problems

Palliative care is focused solely on quality of life for those with serious illnesses. It can help to ease both symptoms and stress and guide care. This type of care is done in addition to standard care for your illness. Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of your illness.

Symptom Relief

Your team will be made up of doctors and nurses that focus in palliative care. They specialize in ways to ease symptoms. Breathing itself may be eased with steps such as:

  • Better room environment
  • Fan therapy—fan blowing at face
  • Body position and breathing tips
  • Increased muscle strength or walking aids to conserve energy

Lung illnesses and breathing trouble can lead to other health and wellness problems. The palliative care team will also plan for other problems such as:

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and weight loss
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Pain
  • Fatigue

Care will help to improve comfort and prioritize your treatments.

Decision Making

Your palliative care team will also help you plan your care. They will review your current treatments and talk to you about what your goals are. Be open and honest about what you need and want.

Palliative care may focus on steps to extend life or comfort measures only. Your team will talk to you about any recommended treatments. They will help you understand if the treatment is truly in line with your goals. Decisions may include:

The palliative care team will also make sure the rest of your medical team know your goals. This will include documents like advanced directives.

Support and Communication

Your family will play a large role in support and care. It can be difficult to talk to loved ones about end-of-life care and decisions. Your palliative care team can help to smooth this out. They can also help you discuss decisions like health care proxy. It is important that your proxy is aware of your goals.

The palliative care team can also provide support for caregivers. They can identify challenges and help find resources for them.


Get Palliative Care
American Lung Association


Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


Dyspnea - approach to the patient. Dynamed. Available at: Accessed: May 21, 2021.
Palliative care. American Lung Association website. Available at: Accessed: May 21, 2021.
Rehabilitative therapies in the palliative care setting. Dynamed. Available at: Accessed: May 21, 2021.
What is Palliative Car? Get Palliative Care website. Available at: Accessed: May 21, 2021.
Last reviewed May 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 5/24/2021

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