Dealing with the symptoms of a serious or life-threatening illness is difficult for pediatric patients and their families. However, there is special care available that can reduce a child's pain, help manage other distressing symptoms, and provide important emotional support to the child and family throughout the course of an illness. It is called palliative care, and it is a central part of treatment.
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Patient-centered, comprehensive, and caring
Palliative care works along with other treatments to enhance quality of life for children of any age living with a broad range of serious illnesses. It is patient-centered and works together with primary treatments to ease suffering and improve quality of life for the patient and family. Palliative care is provided by a team of specialists that may include doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, nutritionists, and others.
When do I need palliative care?
Many adults and children living with serious diseases or conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure, AIDS, cystic fibrosis and other diseases, experience physical symptoms and emotional distress. Sometimes these are related to the patient's medical treatment. You may want to consider palliative care if you or your loved one:
- Suffers from pain or other symptoms due to ANY serious illness
- Experiences uncontrolled physical or emotional distress, or
- Needs help understanding and coordinating care
Start palliative care as soon as you need it. You can receive palliative care at the same time you receive treatments that are meant to cure your illness. Its availability does not depend upon whether or not your condition can be cured. The goal is to make the patient as comfortable as possible and improve his or her quality of life.
Research shows that patients who receive palliative care report improvement in their pain and symptoms, better communication with their healthcare providers and families, and more emotional support.