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Physical pain continued...

The key to effective pain management is to take your pain medicine on a routine schedule, not "as needed." But even with a routine schedule of pain medicine, there may be times when you have pain that is worse than normal. This is called "breakthrough pain." Talk with your doctor about medicines you should have on hand to be prepared for breakthrough pain. And always talk to your doctor before going off your pain medicine. Suddenly stopping pain medicine may cause serious side effects and severe pain.

Talk to your doctor about methods of pain control without medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies may provide pain relief and relaxation for some people. You may be able to complement conventional medical treatment with one of these therapies:

Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects. Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. Complementary therapies are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. But they may help ease symptoms and pain and improve your quality of life.

For more information about pain management, see the topic Chronic Pain.

Emotional distress

It is normal to experience emotional distress for a limited period of time as you learn to cope with your illness. But depression lasting more than 2 weeks is not normal and should be reported to your doctor. Depression is treatable, even when facing a life-limiting illness. Antidepressants, as well as counseling, are available to manage the emotional suffering you may experience.

Talk to your doctor and family if you are experiencing emotional distress. Although grieving is a normal part of the dying process, do not feel that you must endure great emotional pain. Emotional suffering can intensify any physical pain you may be having. It can also decrease your ability to work on important relationships and say good-bye to family and friends.

Other symptoms

You may experience other symptoms as your death nears. Talk to your doctor about what symptoms may develop. Symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, constipation, or shortness of breath can be managed effectively with medicines, diet changes, or oxygen therapy. Have a family member or friend help you describe your symptoms to your doctor or hospice worker. Keeping a journal may be a helpful way of keeping track of your various symptoms.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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