The application of a filtered stream of air onto the face has a real place in the treatment of dyspnea (Chronic Breathlessness) and even reduces the need for oxygen. Studies have shown by blowing air across the face alleviates cough and the urge to cough produced by citric acid in healthy volunteers. Research has shown that cooling the face with a fan is effective in reducing the sensation of breathlessness. When you breathe forced air through your nose, you get more oxygen volume compared to your mouth.
Context: Dyspnea is a common distressing symptom among patients with advanced cancer.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of fan therapy on dyspnea in patients with terminally ill cancer.
Conclusion: Fan-to-face is effective in alleviating dyspnea in patients with terminally ill cancer.
Recent findings: There is sufficient review evidence available to suggest that airflow from the air to the face can provide clinically relevant a discernible relief of chronic refractory breathlessness at rest in patients with advanced diseases. Airflow appears to offer meaningful relief of chronic breathlessness and should be considered as an adjunct treatment in the management of breathlessness.
Reference: National Library of Medicine and Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
Limited direct evidence from randomized controlled trials indicates that fan therapy may effectively alleviate dyspnea. Additional trials are warranted to confirm this finding and explore the use of fan therapy for the treatment of dyspnea in more diverse populations and settings. J Pain Symptom Manage 2019;58:481e486. 2019 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Fan-to-face is effective in alleviating dyspnea in patients with terminally ill cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage 2018;56:493e500. 2018 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Whatever the mechanisms at play, in the light of the data in the previous literature and the article by Luckett et al. , it is possible to confirm that application of a stream of air onto the face by means of a hand-held fan has a real place in the management of some forms of dyspnoea. Failure to take this concept into account in clinical practice would mean failing to comply with the implicit and explicit [3, 4, 7] principles that should govern the management of dyspnoea in medicine. Lansing RW, Gracely RH, Banzett RB. The multiple dimensions of dyspnea: review and hypotheses. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 2009; 167: 53–60. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
Puspawati et al.compared the use of diaphragmatic breathing exercises with airflow from a fan and the use of diaphragmatic breathing exercises alone in 21 hospitalized lung cancer patients. They concluded that the airflow stimulation from a handheld fan decreased the dyspnea sensation and breathing frequency in nonhypoxemic lung cancer patients. Hand-held fan airflow stimulation relieves dyspnea in lung cancer patients.Asia Pac J Oncol Nurs. 2017; 4: 162-167
This updated meta-analysis was able to show a detailed
comparison between fan-on-face therapy versus control
as an adjunct treatment to a standard of care in the allevia-
tion of dyspnea. As for practicality and applicability, fan-
on-face therapy seems to be a favorable option for cancer
patients at the end-of-life. By providing a steady airflow
that cools down the the surface temperature of the skin,
fan-on-face therapy creates an environment that may
optimize the breathing conditions of terminally-ill cancer
patients. Lastly, because of its uncomplicated nature, fan-
on-face therapy is generally safe, and gives patients and
their caregivers the opportunity to actively and effectively
manage dyspnea during the end of life. Kloke M, Cherny N; ESMO Guidelines Committee. Treatment of dyspnoea in advanced cancer patients: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines. Ann Oncol 2015;26(suppl 5):v169–v173