Dyspnoea is a subjective symptom relating to breathing discomfort. There may be a psychosocial component to dyspnoea. Dyspnoea is common in the terminal phase of a palliative illness.

For the specific management of someone with anxiety associated with dyspnoea, refer to Anxiety. For support with switching between opioids, refer to Opioids: Switching between Formulations.

Medicines Information

Open access

palliAGEDgp smartphone application (available as an app or as online content) Tasmanian Palliative Care Formulary


Open access


Subscription required

Therapeutic Guidelines: Palliative Care


  • Dyspnoea is a common symptom in dying patients without always having a specific cause 
  • Potentially treatable causes of dyspnoea include cardiac failure, chest infection, pleural effusions or ascites: 
    • active treatment of these maybe clinically appropriate 
  • Consider trialling a fan, which has been shown to help some patients with dyspnoea

This content was developed for the Decision Assist program, and is managed by CareSearch.
Page updated 18 September 2018