Palliative care, which is available to patients of any age and at any stage of an illness, provides relief from distressing symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, problems with sleep, and many other symptoms. It can also help patients deal with the side effects of curative treatments.
Palliative care is different from hospice care - patients do not have to give up their curative treatments to receive it. "Although often seen as an end-of-life protocol, palliative care provides relief to patients dealing with chronic illnesses as well, including HIV/AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and disease of the heart, lungs, and kidneys," says NINR Director Patricia A. Grady.
Palliative care also strives to improve communication between patients and their health care providers and family members and to coordinate care, especially as patients transition from the hospital to home or to another care facility.