GUIDE FOR CARE AND SUPPORT DURING SERIOUS ILLNESS
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Chapter 2: Easing Pain and Discomfort: Living Well
Communicating About Pain: The Path to Comfort
Here are some tools to help you communicate about your pain and discomfort with your doctor, pharmacist, home health providers, family, and friends. Providing accurate information will help to ensure that your pain is better controlled and that your overall function is improved.
- Be honest with your doctor. Tell your doctor how you're feeling, even if you are not asked. Explain how pain and discomfort are affecting your life.
- Describe the type of discomfort and pain you are having -- dull, sharp, burning, tingling, shooting, stabbing, electrical? On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most severe) how would you rate your pain?
- Show your doctor where the discomfort and pain is. Is it deep or on the surface?
- Explain when you have discomfort or pain. Is it relative to movement? How long does it last? Is it constant, or occasional? When you sit? When you stand? When you rest? Are there patterns you’ve noticed? Is there anything that gives you relief?
- Ask your doctor for recommendations for relieving the pain. What types of drug, and non-drug treatments, are available? What other approaches can help? Relaxation exercises? Massage? Physical therapy? Other non-drug services? Other supportive services?
- Ask your doctor questions about the pain medications prescribed. Are there side effects? Will I become drowsy or confused? Become nauseated or constipated? Have a loss of appetite? Have a dry mouth? What can help me with these side effects?
- Take the medications as they are prescribed. Keep a record of the time and amount taken, and any side effects. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose. Are there special instructions for taking this medication? Are there any medications that should not be taken together? Ask your doctor how long you should wait to see if the drug works. Ask what you should do if you are still having pain.
- Many home health care agencies and hospices are specially trained in pain and symptom management. Many also offer 24-hour, on-call services for assistance when pain and other symptoms occur. Ask your doctor about a home health care referral.
- The following medications are often prescribed. For mild pain: Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen. For moderate pain: Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone. For severe pain: Morphine, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl, Oxycodone. Long-acting medications are also available.
- Let your doctor know if you continue to have pain and discomfort. There are many medications and treatment options, and other approaches may be better for you.
Created by Compassionate Choices/ Modified by Consoling Grace.
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Next page: Chapter 2: Recording Medications and Treatments