Death rattle

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A death rattle is the sound produced by someone who is near death when saliva accumulates in the throat. Those who are dying may lose their ability to swallow, resulting in such an accumulation. Usually, two or three days earlier the symptoms of death can be observed as saliva accumulates in the throat, making it very difficult to take even a spoonful of water. Related symptoms can include shortness of breath and rapid chest movement. While death rattle is a strong indication that someone is near death,[1] it can also be produced by other problems that cause interference with the swallowing reflex, such as the case with brain injuries.[citation needed]

It is sometimes misinterpreted as the sound of the person choking to death, or alternatively, that they are gargling. In hospice and palliative care, drugs such as glycopyrronium, hyoscine hydrobromide (scopolamine) or atropine may be used for their anticholinergic effects to reduce secretions and minimize this effect.[2]

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  1. ^ Wee, B.; Hillier, R. (2008). "Interventions for noisy breathing in patients near to death". In Wee, B. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1): CD005177. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005177.pub2. PMID 18254072. 
  2. ^ Hipp, B.; Letizia, M. (2009). "Understanding and responding to the death rattle in dying patients". Medsurg Nursing 18 (1): 17–21, 32; quiz 22. PMID 19331295. 

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