Respiratory symptom management -Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are drugs which may be used for anxiety. They can have a sedative effect and act as a muscle relaxant.  Benzodiazepines do not relieve breathlessness, however they manage anxiety associated with severe breathlessness.

Benzodiazepines are generally considered as a secondary option if management of breathlessness with opioids has not been successful. Opiates and benzodiazepines can be safely used together in low doses.

Drug names:

  • Lorazepam – May be taken routinely for management of anxiety related breathlessness.
  • Diazepam – Useful for the medication to be given at night and more beneficial for prolonged continuous distressing anxiety.
  • Midazolam – A fast acting, and rapidly absorbed drug predominantly use for management of anxiety and agitation at end of life, often in a syringe driver.