Does understanding words used by the breathless COPD patient enhance therapeutic care?


Shortness of breath, dyspnea and breathlessness are collective terms to describe the awareness of inadequate gas exchange within the respiratory system.Varying mechanisms, behavioural and physiological changes are caused by this ventilation-perfusion mismatch. This complex sensation encompasses manydiverse concepts.The spectrum of language and words used as a consequence of this sensation varies from quality and intensity to emotions and feelings. Matching the phrases to the cause supports understanding.Current studies reviewed produced clusters of verbal descriptors which reflect the multi-dimensional input as a consequence of being out of breath. Using these clusters has produced a comprehensive list of twelve words known as ‘The Dyspnea 12’ which when used, quantifies the severity of this debilitating and extremely distressing symptom.Could these verbal descriptors be used to aid the assessment and treatment of their cause in service users and provide a more holistic view to a widespread problem?

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