Asked and Answered


    Medications

    The health care team, the patient and the family together need to consider several factors before making any change in medications. All these questions need to be answered: What are the patient’s or family’s goals for care? This may be the most important question. The goals must be realistic and achievable. For example, it may not be realistic... read more...
    Many people worry about the use of morphine in palliative care . Morphine and other medications in the morphine family, such as hydromorphone, codeine and fentanyl, are called opioids. These medications may be used to control pain or shortness of breath throughout an illness or at the end of life.   Patients and families sometimes worry that... read more...
    There are several options that can be considered for pain relief with bone pain. Tylenol® is the brand name of acetaminophen . It’s a good painkiller for bone pain, but it may not be strong enough to relieve completely the pain of cancer in the bones. The maximum dose of acetaminophen is 4, 000 mg a day. It’s very important to check with the... read more...
    If your mother was receiving regular pain medication at home, the same dosage needs to continue in hospital. It’s rare that a pain medication regimen is stopped altogether and given just "as needed" (what health care providers call “prn”). One of two different things may be happening. Your mother may in fact be getting medications just as... read more...
    Dexamethasone (Decadron®) is one of a group of medications called corticosteroids. This group of medications has a set of side effects that together are known as Cushing’s syndrome. The common side effects include weight gain, increased appetite, bloating, filling of the face (called moon face) and filling of the abdominal area. These side... read more...
    Morphine and other opioid medications generally have these side effects: Sleepiness Some level of sleepiness or drowsiness is common when the medication is first started or the dosage increased. It usually lasts about two to three days.   Fatigue     Nausea This may occur with the drowsiness. It too tends to subside after a few days, as the... read more...
    It’s not a good idea to flush leftover medications down the toilet, as this pollutes the environment. It’s not a good idea either to keep medications at home, as this can be a safety issue. It is a good idea to take leftover medications to a pharmacy, so someone there can dispose of the medications properly. Most pharmacies take leftover medications... read more...
    The amount of morphine that can cause an overdose or death depends on what a person’s body is used to. It takes more morphine to cause an overdose in someone who is already taking morphine than in someone who has never had it before. Morphine and other opioids are given to control pain . When taking morphine for pain, the body may develop... read more...
    Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®) is a painkiller in the opioid family, as is morphine. Hydromorphone is chemically related to morphine, and very commonly used for moderate to severe pain . Often people are switched from morphine to hydromorphone to treat possible side effects from ongoing use of morphine, such as confusion or uncontrolled jerking... read more...
    All these medications are opioids. This is a group of medications that target certain receptors in the body in order to relieve pain . When treating pain with opioids it’s typical to start with a low dosage, monitor to see how it’s working, and gradually increase the dosage until the person is comfortable. The monitoring is needed to check... read more...
    Your current situation must seem overwhelming. So it’s natural to want to take control. In hospice, you can have a lot of control over your own health care. Before you enter hospice, it’s a good idea to meet with your health care team. They are the doctors and nurses who will provide your care. Review how you are feeling now and what might... read more...
    Fentanyl patches contain strong medication and are placed on the skin to help relieve pain. The patches should be applied and removed as ordered by the doctor and only on the person for whom they were prescribed. Pain patches should not be placed in the garbage! There is still medication left in used patches when they are taken off the skin. read more...
    Fentanyl is a medication that’s been in the media a great deal recently. It plays a large part in the current opioid overdose crisis. It’s important to remember that this crisis is mainly due to illegal opioids being used for non-medical reasons . Street drugs can contain a variety of medications with unknown strengths mixed together. This... read more...