Primary Care - Managing Symptoms
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Managing Symptoms

Regular assessment of a patient’s symptoms and care needs is important. This should include evaluating the current symptoms, symptom history, previous treatments and their effectiveness and patient’s function.

There are a number of common symptoms that can be experienced by patients living with life-limiting illness. These will be explored further in this section. Active management of these symptoms and care needs can reduce the distress and burden experienced by patients, families and carers.

Anxiety
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for anxiety in palliative care.

 

Depression
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for depression in palliative care.

Appetite problems
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for appetite problems in palliative care.
 
Nutrition and palliative care
The Palliative Care Bridge
This video conversation with Ms Melissa Scattergood provides information on the role of a dietitian, of nutrition, and the aim of nutritional management in palliative care and in terminal care.

Constipation
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for constipation in palliative care.

 

Bowel care and intestinal obstruction in end of life care
The Palliative Care Bridge
This interview with Dr Bridget Johnson provides an overview of the causes and management of constipation and bowel obstruction and the importance of differentiating between the two.

Breathing
CareSearch

This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for breathing difficulties in palliative care.

 
Respiratory symptoms
The Palliative Care Bridge

This video presentation by Dr Anthoulla Mohamudally provides an overview of respiratory symptoms in the palliative setting, focussing on the management of dyspnoea and respiratory secretions.

 
Respiratory symptoms and managing secretions in end of life care
The Palliative Care Bridge

This video with Dr Caitlin Sheehan provides a discussion of respiratory symptoms at the end of life.

Delirium
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for delirium in palliative care.
 
Delirium and depression
The Palliative Care Bridge
This video presentation by Prof Meera Agar provides an overview of delirium and depression—two critical conditions that impact upon brain function in advanced illness.

Fatigue
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for fatigue in palliative care.

 

Managing fatigue
The Palliative Care Bridge
This video discussion with Karen Winchester and Roslyn Savage provides an overview of the impact of fatigue and management for everyday activities and quality of life.

Nausea
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for nausea in palliative care.

 

Managing nausea and vomiting
The Palliative Care Bridge
This video interview with Dr Bridget Johnson provides a discussion around the significant impact that nausea and vomiting can have on patient quality of life.

Principles of pain management in palliative care include:

  • give analgesia regularly,
  • use a medicines recording chart to record doses,
  • always look for reversible causes at onset of a new pain, or if pain intensity or character changes,
  • ensure the availability of medications,
  • administer analgesia in a step-wise manner according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Analgesic Ladder.

Pain
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for pain in palliative care.

 

Cancer guidelines wiki: Cancer pain management in adults
Cancer Council Australia
This guideline provides brief point-of-care recommendations for screening, assessment and management of cancer-related pain in adults. It focuses on chronic pain rather than acute pain caused by cancer treatments or pain in cancer survivors (which is best addressed by referral to a specialist pain medicine physician. The guideline makes recommendations about both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management as well as patient awareness and self-management.

 

Pain management in palliative care
The Palliative Care Bridge
This is a downloadable resource providing practical information for pain management in palliative care.

Difficulty sleeping
CareSearch
This webpage describes the clinical evidence supporting patient symptom management for difficulty sleeping in palliative care.

Page updated 29 March 2018