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Handbook for Mortals : Tube Feeding (Fluids and Food)

The benefits of dehydration at the end of life

The evidence from medical research and patientsí bedsides suggests that it is often more comfortable to die without artificial hydration provided either by a feeding tube or IV. Until this generation, everyone who died a natural death died without artificially supplied fluids. Refusing food and drink has always been a sign of the last phase of terminal condition. Only recently have people been afraid that not providing food and fluid through a tube would force someone to "starve to death." There is no medical or clinical evidence that not putting a feeding tube or IV leads to a more a painful death. In fact, the research says just the opposite.

The main burden associated with dehydration at the end of life is a dry mouth. Very few people feel any thirst. Dry mouth can be easily addressed with good mouth care, ice chips or a moistened sponge swab.


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