Sunday, May 5, 2013

Death Rattle Distress, Drug Treatment (Research, Video .43)

The gurgling death rattle sounds of dying patients attracts a lot of attention. Onlookers who witness it often agonize over the noisy breathing of loved ones during their final phase of life. Many have expressed an interest in the death rattle to me. This is how Wikipedia defines it:

“A death rattle is the sound produced by someone who is near death when saliva accumulates in the throat. Those who are dying may lose their ability to swallow, resulting in such an accumulation. Usually, two or three days earlier the symptoms of death can be observed as saliva accumulates in the throat, making it very difficult to take even a spoonful of water. Related symptoms can include shortness of breath and rapid chest movement.”

By the time dying people begin the death rattle experience, their consciousness is low. Although it may appear that they are actively choking, there seems to be a general assumption that these patients are not in any pain.

Drug Treatment Research Concerns:

Patients experiencing the death rattle are often treated with drugs. Some say the drugs are given to the patients more to relieve loved ones witnessing the experience which they may perceive as very distressful for themselves and patients. Unfortunately, some of the drugs involved have negative side effects. Lately, research questions the purpose of using drugs at all for death rattles and encourages more reassuring education for loved ones about the experience so they won’t be so worried.

This video features death rattle sounds from the mouth of a dying patient.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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