Frances Shani Parker, eldercare consultant and Detroit, Michigan author of Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes, writes this blog. Topics include eldercare, hospice, nursing homes, caregiving, dementia, death, bereavement, and older adults in general. News, practices, research, poems, stories, interviews, and videos are used often. In the top right column, you can search for various topics of interest to you. You can also subscribe to this blog or follow it by email.
Death Rattle Sounds: Myth vs. Fact (Research, Video-Audio .44)
Death rattle sounds refer to the rattle-like breathing noises caused by respiratory tract secretions
during the final days of life. Those who are dying may lose their ability to swallow, resulting in an accumulation of these secretions. The following researched death rattle information addresses several myths that
exist regarding this experience.
Death Rattle Myths and Facts
Death rattle symptoms are rare.
Death rattle symptoms are common in dying patients.
Death rattle symptoms are difficult to watch or control.
rattle symptoms can be distressing for some observers. Symptoms
can be treated through a combination of measures. It should be noted, however,
that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that any drug is superior to a placebo
containing no medication. Treatment may serve to alleviate the perceived
distress of observers rather than benefiting the patient.
3)Myth: Patients showing death rattle
symptoms undergo a great deal of pain.
Fact: The level of consciousness in patients who may appear to be actively
choking while experiencing death rattle symptoms is usually so low that it is
generally assumed that they are not in pain. Healthcare providers should consider why they treat death
rattle symptoms. Some of the drugs involved
have negative side effects. Caregivers and loved ones should be educated regarding the death
rattle experience and reassured that it is unlikely that patients are
Rattle-like breathing sounds
resulting from an accumulation of secretions in the dying patient’s airway can
be heard during the death rattle. It would be both helpful and interesting to read
firsthand comments from healthcare staff and other caregivers regarding
their personal involvement with patients and observers during death
rattle experiences. This YouTube video features death rattle sounds from the mouth of a