Respiratory symptom management - Hyoscine

As a person is approaching the end of their life, secretions can accumulate in the throat and chest causing “noisy” and “rattling” sounds. Swallowing and/or coughing may be reduced or absent and thicker secretions may cause discomfort and distress to the patient and their family.

Hyoscine is an antimuscarinic, antisecretory drug use for the management of respiratory secretions.

The antimuscarinic effect of hyoscine “dries out” the secretions however it does not allow them to be removed.

  • Hyoscine is only effective on new secretions that are high in the airways and respiratory tract.
  • It does not have effect on existing secretions lower in the lungs.
  • For the dying patient, hyoscine is administered subcutaneously or by syringe driver.