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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 May;39(5):831-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2009.09.024.

Does the use of a handheld fan improve chronic dyspnea? A randomized, controlled, crossover trial.

Author information

1
Palliative Care Service, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, United Kingdom. sarah.galbraith@addenbrookes.nhs.uk

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Dyspnea is a disabling distressing symptom that is common in advanced disease affecting millions of people worldwide. Current palliative strategies are partially effective in managing this symptom; facial cooling has been shown to reduce the sensation of breathlessness when induced in volunteers but has not been formally investigated in dyspnea associated with disease.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this study was to investigate whether a handheld fan reduces the sensation of breathlessness in such patients, enhancing palliative approaches.

METHODS:

The effectiveness of a handheld fan (blowing air across the nose and mouth) in reducing the sensation of breathlessness was assessed in patients with advanced disease. Fifty participants were randomized to use a handheld fan for five minutes directed to their face or leg first and then crossed over to the other treatment. The primary outcome measure was a decrease of greater than 1cm in breathlessness recorded on a 10 cm visual analog scale (VAS).

RESULTS:

There was a significant difference in the VAS scores between the two treatments, with a reduction in breathlessness when the fan was directed to the face (P=0.003).

CONCLUSION:

This study supports the hypothesis that a handheld fan directed to the face reduces the sensation of breathlessness. The fan was acceptable to participants: it is inexpensive, portable, enhances self-efficacy, and available internationally. It should be recommended as part of a palliative management strategy for reducing breathlessness associated with advanced disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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