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Palliative Care: Overview, facility, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a specialized form of medical care used for people who have serious illness. This kind of care is usually focused to provide relief from stress and symptoms of certain ailments. This care is undergone by patients to improve their and their family’s livelihood. Palliative care is given by trained doctors, specialists and nurses who have specialized in this field. This treatment is available at any stage or life after going through a serious illness or it can also simultaneously be provided with the treatment. During palliative care the team will help you to gain strength so that you can do your daily activities without feeling burdened or depressed.

Doctors, specialists and nurses forming the team of palliative care treat people suffering from the stress of serious ailments like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure and cancer. This treatment treats anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite, nausea, constipation, fatigue, shortness of breath and depression caused by serious ailments. These diseases have the capacity to make the patient emotionally depressed which hampers their health more and makes them give up on life. Palliative care ensures that the stress and symptoms of these ailments which cause distress to the patient, is reduced to a certain extent.

How is the treatment done?

Palliative care can be started after the initial treatment of the disease or it can be performed simultaneously with the physical treatment. The team will spend some time listening to you, give you advice, talk to you and make you feel better. The will make you understand all the choices and treatment options available to you. By exploring and digging deep in your personal goals, this care team will help you to match those options and goals. The palliative care team will also make sure of the fact that all your doctors are coordinated and know what you want from the treatment. Palliative care gives you more control and confidence over your treatment.

Diseases like cancer take a toll over your body as well as your mind. It makes you lose hope on life and go into depression. The treatment of cancer like chemotherapy and radiation therapy are very painful, time consuming and have a lot of health effects initially on your body. It makes you extremely weak and breaks your confidence completely. Palliative care gives you the strength and improves your ability to undergo the medical treatment associated with such diseases. This treatment is also recommended for patients suffering from dementia, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, leukemia, myeloma, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia and stroke.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Patients suffering from serious ailments or have undergone life saving operations recently are the perfect candidates for palliative care. It is best for cancer patients to get palliative care along with their cancer treatment to reduce distress and emotional drainage. Family members are also allowed palliative care because a life threatening disease caused to a single member of the family can wreck havoc and put the rest of the family in emotional turmoil. Also family members are overwhelmed and start to panic when such situations arise, therefore, palliative care helps the family members to understand the needs of the patient and guides them how to offer the patient emotional support.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Palliative care is not so effective for patients who are declared terminally ill and just have 6 months or less to survive. In such cases, a treatment called hospice should be performed till their death.


Are there any side effects?

There are no side effects of palliative care and it is 100% safe for the patient.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Palliative care begins with the diagnosis of the disease, continues throughout the treatment and lastly ends after the follow up care. In some cases, this treatment is even performed till the end of a patient’s life. After the patient recovers from the disease, they should keep receiving palliative care for some time to make sure they regain their competence to take care of themselves and make their own decisions in life. When the treatment gets over, the palliative care team guides the patient and talks to him/her about the preventive measures to take so that relapse of the disease doesn’t occur in future.

How long does it take to recover?

The exact recovery period is not same for all patients. It solely depends upon the patient’s motivation and confidence level. Palliative care helps to offer emotional support and ways to combat the disease. In most cases, after the patient recovers from the life threatening disease, palliative care is no longer needed if they are no longer bothered by the distress symptoms anymore.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price range of palliative care in India is approximately Rs.40,000 per day. However, it differs from hospital to hospital.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment depends on person to person. If the patient recovers completely and doesn’t need any support or care in the future, then he/she may no longer require this treatment. However, if the patient encounters another life threatening disease in future, then palliative care can be helpful again.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Since palliative care provides physical, spiritual, practical and emotional care to the patients suffering from serious ailments, there aren’t a lot of alternatives. However hospice can be performed, but only on patients who are terminally sick and are approaching death in 6 months or less.


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Written ByDr. Praveen ChaudharyMBBS,PGD IN ULTRAASONOGRAPHY,Non invasive cardiology course,MD - MedicineInternal Medicine
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