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Thursday, August 4, 2011

A breeze proven to help with dyspnea

We observed here at the RT cave long ago that patients with lung diseases are often found with the windows open and/ or a fan on in the room blowing cool air.  A new study might prove that these patients might be on to a good method of decreasing dyspnea (air hunger).

I remember as a kid sticking my head out the window of my bedroom to get some relief from dyspnea.  Later I started using a fan in my room.  When I became an RT I observed that I wasn't the lone asthmatic to create a breeze in this way, as I observed many lungers in one way or another create a breeze in their rooms.

The February isue of RT Magazine had an interesting article, "Relieving Terminal Dyspnea:  Oxygen or Air," where a study done in 1993 by Bruera et al and published in Lancet  that compared giving 2lpm continuously of oxygen to some patients and air to others to see if oen or the other it did anything to relieve dyspnea.

Without knowing which patients were given what, all the patients observed that their dyspnea had improved regardless of whether or not they were given air or oxygen. In fact, patients in both groups noted an 87% improvement in perceived dyspnea after three days.

This study is significant because while the patients in the study noted dyspnea, none was hypoxemic.  Experts surmise from this what we have previously suspected, that a breeze reduces the feeling of dyspnea. This cool can be accomplished by:
  • A fan blowing cool air
  • A breeze from an open window (although this increases the risk of inhaling air pollutants)
  • Gas flow in the nasal passages
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