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Common terms defined

In healthcare and hospice, there are common terms that are used when describing care, medications or symptoms. Learn some of the most common ones here.

Jan 14, 2022

If you have questions about any of these terms or one not listed here, please ask your care team. We want to help you understand the details of your loved one’s care.


feelings of fear, dread or uneasiness

a comfort medication that is helpful for congestion and rattly breathing

Comfort Medications
medications that are commonly prescribed for end-of-life symptoms

the infrequent, incomplete or difficult passage of stool

difficult or labored breathing

natural pain killers produced by the body

Haloperidol (Haldol)
a comfort medication that is helpful for agitation associated with confusion/delirium and also for nausea

a comfort medication that is helpful for anxiety, restlessness and shortness of breath

a device that uses forced air to distribute breathing medications into the lungs

a comfort medication that is helpful for pain and shortness of breath; examples include MS Contin and Roxanol

a group of medications used to treat pain; examples include Morphine, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl and Methadone

Pulse Oximetry (“Pulse Ox”)
a measurement of the amount of oxygen in an individual’s blood

Pursed Lip Breathing
a strategy to slow breathing by breathing in through your nose and then breathing out slowly through your lips while shaped like you are whistling

a comfort medication that is used to prevent or treat constipation

a mucus collection that usually takes place in the nose, mouth or throat

Vital Signs (“Vitals”)
a measurement of pulse rate, oxygen level, respiration rate and blood pressure