Breathing changes

Changing breathing patterns are normal in the dying person. As they are less active the body's need for oxygen reduces and the breathing may become slower and shallower.

Sometimes the person may have noisy rattling breaths as they can not clear secretions from their chest as well as before. This can sound distressing but does not usually cause discomfort to the person.

If the person becomes agitated or restless their breathing may increase.

What can you do?

  • Positioning the person in a comfortable way using pillows and extra support may help.
  • Feeling breathless can cause distress so reassurance and simple steps such as a fan or opening a window may help.
  • If a physiotherapy or suction equipment is available this can help to make the person more comfortable.