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Palliation of thirst in the intensive care unit (ICU) patient

Palliation of thirst in the intensive care unit (ICU) patient
Key steps to assess and manage thirst in ICU patients
1. Conduct regular thirst assessments in patients able to self-report
2. Examine the mouth and tongue for dryness and cracking or infection, as indicators of thirst/dryness
3. Recognize the risk profile for patient thirst, including NPO status and administration of anticholinergic medications and opioids
4. Assume that the patient is experiencing thirst
5. Do frequent mouth care
6. Use water-soaked gauzes, water sprays, and ice chips frequently when permissible
7. Consider the use of artificial saliva
8. Consider the use of heater humidifiers in patients with high-flow oxygen therapy
9. Evaluate and document the effectiveness of the thirst interventions
NPO: nil per os.
Reprinted by permission from: Springer: Intensive Care Medicine. Puntillo K, Nelson JE, Weissman D, et al. Palliative care in the ICU: relief of pain, dyspnea, and thirst – A report from the IPAL-ICU Advisory Board. Intensive Care Med 2014; 40:235. Copyright © 2014.
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