Skip to main content
updated January 10, 2013

Palliative care: Symptom relief during illness

  • SUMMARY
  • Palliative care can provide pain and symptom relief, support, and coordinated, holistic care for people who have serious illnesses. Find out more about palliative care.
ASK AN EXPERT
Got a question about a health story in the news or a health topic? Here's your chance to get an answer. Send us your questions about general health topics, diet and fitness and mental health. If your question is chosen, it could be featured on CNN.com's health page with an answer from one of our health experts, or by a participant in the CNNhealth community.




* CNN encourages you to contribute a question. By submitting a question, you agree to the following terms found below.
You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. By submitting your question, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your questions(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statment.
Thank you for your question!

It will be reviewed and considered for posting on CNNHealth.com. Questions and comments are moderated by CNN and will not appear until after they have been reviewed and approved. Unfortunately, because of the voume of questions we receive, not all can be posted.

Submit another question or Go back to CNNHealth.com

Read answers from our experts: Living Well | Diet & Fitness | Mental Health | Conditions
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font
MayoClinic Logo
Filed under: Boomer's Health

(MayoClinic.com) If you or a loved one has a serious or life-threatening illness, you might have thought about palliative care. To understand palliative care and how it can help relieve pain and improve quality of life, consider the following questions.

Don't Miss

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a multidisciplinary medical specialty that aims to improve quality of life for people who have serious or life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care takes into account the person's emotional, physical and spiritual needs and goals — as well as the needs of his or her family.

Palliative care doesn't replace primary medical treatment. Instead, palliative care is provided in conjunction with all other medical treatment.

How is palliative care different from hospice?

Palliative care is available at any time during a serious or life-threatening illness, while hospice care is available only at the end of life — when curative or life-prolonging treatments have been stopped. You don't have to be in hospice to receive palliative care.

Who can benefit from palliative care?

Anyone who has a serious or life-threatening illness can benefit from palliative care, either to treat symptoms of the disease, such as pain or shortness of breath, or to ease the side effects of treatment, such as fatigue or nausea.

Palliative care may be a good option for someone with a serious illness who needs help:

  • Managing pain or other symptoms
  • Understanding and coping with his or her condition
  • Navigating the health care system
How does palliative care work?

Palliative care can be provided throughout treatment for a serious illness — whether you or your loved one is being treated on an outpatient basis or in a hospital or a nursing home. This type of treatment can be provided by various specialists, including doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors, chaplains, registered dietitians, pharmacists and rehabilitation specialists.

A palliative care specialist works with the primary care doctor and a team of other health care professionals to create a treatment plan that eases symptoms, relieves pain, addresses spiritual and psychological concerns, and helps maintain dignity and comfort.

A palliative care specialist can also help you or your loved one communicate with doctors and family members and create a smooth transition between the hospital and home care or nursing facilities. The palliative care team will educate you and your family members about what to expect and schedule routine meetings to discuss ongoing care throughout the course of your illness.

What are some real-life examples of palliative care?

Here's one example of how palliative care works: You have a history of heart failure and are increasingly short of breath, which makes it hard for you to do even simple chores around the house. You live at home with a partner who also has health problems. You find that getting all of the care you and your partner need is becoming more difficult, and you're not sure how to plan for the future. This has been stressful for you and your family physically, psychologically, spiritually and financially.

Your primary care doctor suggests that you consider palliative care and explains that a palliative care team will work with you to determine how to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

How can I learn more about palliative care?

If you're interested in obtaining palliative care for yourself or a loved one, ask your doctor or your loved one's doctor about palliative care options and if a program is available in your area.

©1998-2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on Mayoclinic.com.


advertisement
Ask a Question

Want to know more about this article or other health related issues? Ask your question and we'll post some each week for CNN.com reader to discuss or for our experts to weight in.

Ask a Question button