Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dehydration and Death

Recently I was reading about the end stages of dying in the cancer magazine Cure. Morbid I know.
This was of interest to me as I always wondered how cruel my mother's death was. Hospice had warned me that when she was no longer able to feed herself, that was going to be it. They didn't exactly follow that rule. As she lay dying, an aide shoveled food into her mouth. What the aide failed to realize was that she swallowed none of it. The nursing home found my mom with cheeks full of food. I was furious.
As the article said, no one dies because they are not eating; they are not eating because they are dying.

Dehydration though did seem cruel. However the article says that dehydration causes endorphins to be released in the dying patient (how do they know this?). Furthermore, artificial hydration leads to pulmonary edema (difficulty breathing) and vomiting. It may not prolong living but it may prolong dying.

Still hot and still no rain.

1 comment:

Holly said...

When I was trained in end of life care in the 80's everyone got an IV for hyrdation. Now we know that artificial hydration causes cardiac and pulmonary congestion. The dying body cannot manage the extra fluids and so the extremeties become edematous
if fluids are forced. Drier IS better and those happy hormones (endorphins) are released. I can send you some articles when I'm at work nexy week, if you'd like!


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