Nasal High Flow Therapy For Symptom Management in People Receiving Palliative Care

Joanna Yilin Huang, Patrick Steele, Eli Dabscheck, Natasha Smallwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


For patients with chronic non-malignant lung disease, severe chronic breathlessness can significantly impact quality of life, causing significant disability, distress, social isolation, and recurrent hospital admissions. Caregivers for people with challenging symptoms, such as severe breathlessness, are also profoundly impacted. Despite increasing research focused on breathlessness over recent years, this symptom remains extremely difficult to manage, with no effective treatment that completely relieves breathlessness. A new potential treatment for relieving breathlessness in patients at home is nasal high flow (NHF) therapy. NHF therapy is a respiratory support system that delivers heated, humidified air (together with oxygen if required) with flows of up to 60 L/min. This case describes a patient with very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who received domiciliary NHF therapy (approximately 8 hours/day, flow rate of 20 L/min) over twelve months with good effect for the relief of severe chronic breathlessness. We discuss the management principles for severe chronic breathlessness, the physiological effects of NHF therapy and the evidence for long-term use in the community setting. With the support of respiratory and palliative care clinicians together, domiciliary NHF therapy has great potential for improving current symptom management approaches in people with life-limiting illnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e237-e245
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • chronic respiratory disease
  • Dyspnea, palliative care, nasal high flow therapy

Cite this