Gurgling in the Throat and Secretions

Very near death (a few hours or a day or two), you may hear the person gurgle or make a snoring-like sound. During this the person will be extremely drowsy and may not respond at all. These noises are the result of several things - small amounts of mucus in the throat, the jaw dropping back, or the tongue moving back due to the relaxation of jaw and throat muscles. Sometimes a soft short moaning sound with each breath out may accompany this. This will never result in suffocation or death from a blocked airway. Again, be reassured that your loved one is not in pain, but these sounds are due to relaxation of throat tissues.

The best thing to do is to put the person flat in bed on their side. Make sure the person is well supported by pillows all along the back of the body. Doing this will often stop the noises. The doctor may recommend that you go to the drug store and buy a medicine called "Transderm V." This is a small patch that is placed behind the ear and will dry up the secretions. Sometimes, the doctor will use an injected medicine to do the same thing. Oxygen will not help with this problem. Suction machines are very rarely needed and in inexperienced hands, can cause a lot of distress.

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This page was last updated: November 5th, 2004 at 2:15pm.