Distressing Symptoms of Dying

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Before funerals at funeral homes in Dayton, OH, as you’re caring for a loved one who is dying, there will come a point when they will start exhibiting symptoms that you may find very distressing. However, they are part of the dying process, and many of them can be managed effectively so that your loved one is comfortable.

One distressing symptom is pain. While not everyone who is dying from a terminal illness experiences pain, people who are dying from diseases like cancer or from organ failure experience pain as death draws near. The pain may be so intense that they scream out or they moan and groan loudly.

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However, there is no reason for our loved ones to experience excruciating pain as they are dying. There are different types and levels of medications that can manage pain quite effectively and keep our loved ones comfortable. Hospital personnel, primary care physicians or hospice agencies will make sure that pain can be managed appropriately and well.

Another distressing symptom of dying is difficulty breathing. Shortness of breath is common as oxygen levels decrease. It can be very hard, though, to watch a loved one struggling to breathe. Fortunately, this symptom can be most easily remedied with the use of oxygen and/or medication.

Oxygen concentrators are much easier – and safer – to use than oxygen canisters. Oxygen concentrators come in both full-sized units and portable battery-powered units. If possible, we should always get a portable battery-powered oxygen concentrator. By keeping it constantly charged, it’s an excellent backup to provide oxygen if the power is out for any length of time.

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The medication given for shortness of breath may be an inhaler or a steam-delivery system. The most commonly used medication is Albuterol (this is the medication typically prescribed for asthma). While most people don’t have adverse reactions to Albuterol, some dying people may be more sensitive and show increased agitation or anxiety after using it.

Anxiety, of and by itself, is often a distressing symptom of dying. It may be a reaction to pain or to shortness of breath, or it may be a response to emotional or mental stress. Anxiety can often ramp up quickly in people who are dying, so it can seemingly blow up out of nowhere. A small dosage of anti-anxiety medicine in the medication regimen of people who are dying and it should be used as needed.

Another distressing symptom of dying is less hunger and thirst. There are a couple of reasons for this. As the body shuts down, the sense of smell begins to fade. A lot of what we taste is actually related to what we smell, so as the sense of smell leaves, the sense of taste changes (many people describe it as being metallic and they say that nothing tastes good). The other reason for less hunger and thirst is because the body is using much less energy, so it needs much less fuel.

Not wanting to eat or drink anything tends to be more distressing for caregivers than it is for the dying. However, it’s important to respect their wishes and not try to force them to eat or drink anything if they refuse it.

A final distressing symptom of dying is changes in sleep patterns. As people near death and the body starts its orderly shutdown, people will usually sleep more hours than they are awake. Some dying people have a “rally” of alertness and clarity just before they die, but for the most part, sleep increases and wakefulness decreases as dying progresses.

If you’d like guidance about funerals at funeral homes in Dayton, OH, our compassionate and experienced staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service can help. You can come by our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can contact us today at (937) 278-4287.

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