Pharmacological approaches to breathlessness

David C. Currow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses pharmacological strategies to alleviate dyspnoea or breathlessness in patients with advanced disease. Although significant improvements have been made in the administration of pharmacological approaches in terminally ill patients suffering from dyspnoea, careful considerations should be made. In easing symptomatic breathlessness, considerations on the validity and generalizability of pharmacotherapy should be discussed and considered. This is because the palliative population is composed of heterogeneous people with various clinical situations, breathlessness problems, and responses to therapy. The main concern of the chapter is breathlessness that is refractory. Discussed in it are: the clinical data and functions of opioids in managing dyspnoea; the functions of other opioids and other medications such as indomethacin, inhaled local anaesthetics, theophylline, and buspirone; and other clinical causes of dyspnoea.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDyspnoea in Advanced Disease
Subtitle of host publicationA guide to clinical management
EditorsSara Booth, Deborah Dudgeon
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191730450
ISBN (Print)9780198530039
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Buspirone
  • Indomethacin
  • Inhaled local anaesthetics
  • Opioids
  • Pharmacological approaches
  • Pharmacological strategies
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Symptomatic breathlessness
  • Theophylline


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