Opioids, Exertion, and Dyspnea: A Review of the Evidence

Miriam Johnson, David Hui, David Currow

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this paper is to review the evidence for a role for opioids as an intervention for exertion induced breathlessness with regard to exercise tolerance and breathlessness intensity. Current knowledge about exogenous opioids in exertion-induced breathlessness due to disease comes from a variety of phase 2 feasibility or pilot designs with differing duration, doses, drugs, exercise regimes, underlying aetiologies, and outcome measures. They provide interesting data but firm conclusions for either breathlessness severity or exercise endurance cannot be drawn. There are no adequately powered phase 3 trials of opioids which show improved exercise tolerance and/or exertion induced breathlessness. Low dose oral morphine seems well tolerated by most, and is beneficial for breathlessness intensity. Current work to investigate the effect on exercise tolerance is ongoing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)194-200
    Number of pages7
    JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • breathlessness
    • dyspnea
    • exercise
    • exertion
    • morphine
    • opioids


    Dive into the research topics of 'Opioids, Exertion, and Dyspnea: A Review of the Evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this