Originally, palliative care was developed for people with terminal illness. But within the past decade, it has become a medical specialty that focuses on a much broader range of serious or life-threatening diseases.
Today, patients with cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, AIDS, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and many other serious illnesses are eligible for palliative care.
One of the primary goals is symptom management. The disease itself may cause symptoms, but so can treatments. For example, chemotherapy drugs may cause nausea and vomiting. Also, narcotic drugs to control pain frequently lead to constipation.
By providing relief for various symptoms, palliative care can help you not only carry on with your daily life, but also improve your ability to undergo or complete your medical treatments.
Here are some symptoms that palliative care may address:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bowel or bladder problems
- Loss of appetite, weight loss, or wasting
- Shortness of breath or labored breathing
- Delirium or mental confusion
- Difficulty sleeping
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