Just as there is no single cause of dyspnea, there is no single treatment. In severe dyspnea, the primary treatment goal is maintenance of the airway and oxygenation with a Pao2 greater than 60 mmHg (arterial oxygen saturation, or Sao2, approximately 90% or greater). After this is ensured, or for patients with lesser degrees of dyspnea, disorder-specific treatment along with supplemental oxygen can be provided in the emergency department. Patients with unrelieved dyspnea at rest, particularly those with terminal malignancies, may benefit from benzodiazepines and/or opiates.7
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