Categories of Medications Used in Palliative Care

a senior woman with a caregiverPalliative care is aimed at making a patient facing a life-limiting condition as comfortable as possible. It addresses his or her nutritional status, pain relief, and emotional well-being among other aspects. There are different techniques used to achieve this, but the primary one is medications.

In Indiana, most people associate palliative care only with pain medications. Though these drugs are essential to ease the pain typical in life-limiting conditions, they are not the only ones. Here are other types of medications used in palliative care.


Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in patients undergoing palliative care. These are generally the side effects of the medications used to treat different symptoms. To reduce nausea and vomiting, antiemetics are the ideal solution. Metoclopramide, dimenhydrinate, and levomepromazine are the standard drugs used for this.


Battling a life-limiting illness is emotionally draining for most patients. Though they undergo psychological counseling, antidepressants are essential to help them cope with depression. Fluoxetine and amitriptyline are the common antidepressants used in palliative care patients. Other than the relief of depression symptoms, these medications also relieve pain to some extent.


The majority of life-limiting conditions are associated with some level of inflammation that causes pain. Most inflammatory conditions follow viral and bacterial infections common in palliative care patients because of reduced immunity. Steroids are prescribed to reduce the symptoms associated with the inflammation. They are also used as adjuvant drugs with pain medications.

One of the common concerns for patients in palliative care or those with loved ones undergoing the same is the use of too many drugs. The above types of drugs might seem excessive, but they are not. In a reputable palliative care center equipped with well-trained staff, you can rest assured that all medications given to a patient address a specific issue. There is hence no risk of overdosing or drug dependence.