Items in AFP with MESH term: Dyspnea
ABSTRACT: In addition to pain, patients who are approaching the end of life commonly have other symptoms. Unless contraindicated, prophylaxis with a gastrointestinal motility stimulant laxative and a stool softener is appropriate in terminally ill patients who are being given opioids. Patients with low performance status are not candidates for surgical treatment of bowel obstruction. Cramping abdominal pain associated with mechanical bowel obstruction often can be managed with morphine (titrating the dosage for pain) and octreotide. Delirium is common at the end of life and is frequently caused by a combination of medications, dehydration, infections or hypoxia. Haloperidol is the pharmaceutical agent of choice for the management of delirium. Dyspnea, the subjective sensation of uncomfortable breathing, is often treated by titration of an opioid to relieve the symptom; a benzodiazepine is used when anxiety is a component of the breathlessness.
Acute Dyspnea in the Office - Article
ABSTRACT: Respiratory difficulty is a common presenting complaint in the outpatient primary care setting. Because patients may first seek care by calling their physician's office, telephone triage plays a role in the early management of dyspnea. Once the patient is in the office, the initial goal of assessment is to determine the severity of the dyspnea with respect to the need for oxygenation and intubation. Unstable patients typically present with abnormal vital signs, altered mental status, hypoxia, or unstable arrhythmia, and require supplemental oxygen, intravenous access and, possibly, intubation. Subsequent management depends on the differential diagnosis established by a proper history, physical examination, and ancillary studies. Dyspnea is most commonly caused by respiratory and cardiac disorders. Other causes may be upper airway obstruction, metabolic acidosis, a psychogenic disorder, or a neuromuscular condition. Differential diagnoses in children include bronchiolitis, croup, epiglottitis, and foreign body aspiration. Pertinent history findings include cough, sore throat, chest pain, edema, and orthopnea. The physical examination should focus on vital signs and the heart, lungs, neck, and lower extremities. Significant physical signs are fever, rales, wheezing, cyanosis, stridor, or absent breath sounds. Diagnostic work-up includes pulse oximetry, complete blood count, electrocardiography, and chest radiography. If the patient is admitted to the emergency department or hospital, blood gases, ventilation-perfusion scan, D-dimer tests, and spiral computed tomography can help clarify the diagnosis. In a stable patient, management depends on the underlying etiology of the dyspnea.
Evaluation of Chronic Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Chronic dyspnea is defined as dyspnea lasting more than one month. In approximately two thirds of patients presenting with dyspnea, the underlying cause is cardiopulmonary disease. Establishing an accurate diagnosis is essential because treatment differs depending on the underlying condition. Asthma, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, and psychogenic causes account for 85 percent of patients with this principal symptom. The history and physical examination should guide selection of initial diagnostic tests such as electrocardiogram, chest radiograph, pulse oximetry, spirometry, complete blood count, and metabolic panel. If these are inconclusive, additional testing is indicated. Formal pulmonary function testing may be needed to establish a diagnosis of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or interstitial lung disease. High-resolution computed tomography is particularly useful for diagnosing interstitial lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, or pulmonary embolism. Echocardiography and brain natriuretic peptide levels help establish a diagnosis of congestive heart failure. If the diagnosis remains unclear, additional tests may be required. These include ventilation perfusion scans, Holter monitoring, cardiac catheterization, esophageal pH monitoring, lung biopsy, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.
Diagnostic Evaluation of Dyspnea - Article
ABSTRACT: Dyspnea is a common symptom and, in most cases, can be effectively managed in the office by the family physician. The differential diagnosis is composed of four general categories: cardiac, pulmonary, mixed cardiac or pulmonary, and noncardiac or nonpulmonary. Most cases of dyspnea are due to cardiac or pulmonary disease, which is readily identified with a careful history and physical examination. Chest radiographs, electrocardiograph and screening spirometry are easily performed diagnostic tests that can provide valuable information. In selected cases where the test results are inconclusive or require clarification, complete pulmonary function testing, arterial blood gas measurement, echocardiography and standard exercise treadmill testing or complete cardiopulmonary exercise testing may be useful. A consultation with a pulmonologist or cardiologist may be helpful to guide the selection and interpretation of second-line testing.
ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (systemic scleroderma) is a chronic connective tissue disease of unknown etiology that causes widespread microvascular damage and excessive deposition of collagen in the skin and internal organs. Raynaud phenomenon and scleroderma (hardening of the skin) are hallmarks of the disease. The typical patient is a young or middle-age woman with a history of Raynaud phenomenon who presents with skin induration and internal organ dysfunction. Clinical evaluation and laboratory testing, along with pulmonary function testing, Doppler echocardiography, and high-resolution computed tomography of the chest, establish the diagnosis and detect visceral involvement. Patients with systemic sclerosis can be classified into two distinct clinical subsets with different patterns of skin and internal organ involvement, autoantibody production, and survival. Prognosis is determined by the degree of internal organ involvement. Although no disease-modifying therapy has been proven effective, complications of systemic sclerosis are treatable, and interventions for organ-specific manifestations have improved substantially. Medications (e.g., calcium channel blockers and angiotensin-II receptor blockers for Raynaud phenomenon, appropriate treatments for gastroesophageal reflux disease) and lifestyle modifications can help prevent complications, such as digital ulcers and Barrett esophagus. Endothelin-1 receptor blockers and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors improve pulmonary arterial hypertension. The risk of renal damage from scleroderma renal crisis can be lessened by early detection, prompt initiation of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor therapy, and avoidance of high-dose corticosteroids. Optimal patient care includes an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to promptly and effectively recognize, evaluate, and manage complications and limit end-organ dysfunction.
ABSTRACT: As death approaches, a gradual shift in emphasis from curative and life prolonging therapies toward palliative therapies can relieve significant medical burdens and maintain a patient's dignity and comfort. Pain and dyspnea are treated based on severity, with stepped interventions, primarily opioids. Common adverse effects of opioids, such as constipation, must be treated proactively; other adverse effects, such as nausea and mental status changes, usually dissipate with time. Parenteral methylnaltrexone can be considered for intractable cases of opioid bowel dysfunction. Tumor-related bowel obstruction can be managed with corticosteroids and octreotide. Therapy for nausea and vomiting should be targeted to the underlying cause; low-dose haloperidol is often effective. Delirium should be prevented with normalization of environment or managed medically. Excessive respiratory secretions can be treated with reassurance and, if necessary, drying of secretions to prevent the phenomenon called the "death rattle." There is always something more that can be done for comfort, no matter how dire a situation appears to be. Good management of physical symptoms allows patients and loved ones the space to work out unfinished emotional, psychological, and spiritual issues, and, thereby, the opportunity to find affirmation at life's end.
Sore Throat and Difficulty Breathing - Photo Quiz
Digitalis for Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure in Patients in Sinus Rhythm - Cochrane for Clinicians
Persistent Cough and Worsening Dyspnea - Photo Quiz
A Pregnant Patient with Dyspnea - Photo Quiz