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

CareSearch Tasmanian Care Management Guidelines

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 30 November 2017