Palliative treatment provides comfort
Patients with serious conditions such as cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or liver failure often receive palliative care.
Palliative treatments improve your quality of life by relieving common symptoms and side effects of these conditions, such as pain, nausea or trouble breathing. You can receive treatments that focus on curing your illness at the same time that you receive palliative care.
Palliative treatments improve many symptoms and side effects
Palliative treatment can help with many different issues, including:
- Pain – Pain management is a main focus of palliative care. Palliative care doctors use medicines to reduce and control your pain, no matter its cause.
- Nausea or fatigue – Some treatments, especially cancer treatments, can result in side effects like nausea or fatigue. Palliative care medicines can reduce or relieve these symptoms so you have a better quality of life.
- Esophageal obstruction – Your esophagus (the tube food travels through to your stomach) can be blocked by tumors due to esophageal cancer. Your doctor can overcome this problem by giving you a feeding tube or by placing a plastic device that keeps your esophagus open to allow food to get through. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also reduce the size of esophageal tumors, relieving any blockage.
- Pleural effusion – Pleural effusion happens when fluid builds up in your lungs. Your doctor can reduce this fluid build-up by draining fluid out with a needle or a tube.
- Airway obstruction – Some cancer tumors can also block your airways, making it hard to breathe. Therefore, you may need extra oxygen to help you breathe. Doctors can also open airways by reducing the size of the tumors through chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Sometimes surgeries can open airways by removing parts or all of the tumor or by putting in a special device to hold the airway open.