Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Symptoms and Potential Nutrition Solutions

Symptoms Solutions
Dyspnea and fatigue
  • Consider easy meal  preparation.
  • Prepare meals utilizing simple recipes in bulk where single  portions can be frozen.
  • Stocking up on prepared foods  may also be an alternate solution.
  • Arrangements of home delivered meals may also be a possibility.
  • Encourage resting before eating and  cough techniques prior to meals (if necessary).
  • Encourage the individuals to eat slowly and  use pursed-lip breathing.
  • Consider use of oxygen  (if indicated) at meal  times.
Dysphagia/Dental problems
  • Promote good  dental hygiene.
  • Assess denture fit and  ensure adequate oral rinsing.
  • Encourage high calorie, dense foods  in a soft diet.
  • Consider liquid nutritional supplementation.
Oral thrush due to improper inhaled corticosteroid use
  • Assess oral cavity.
  • Promote good  dental hygiene.
  • Ensure appropriate medical follow up.
  • Ensure adequate rinsing of mouth post-inhaled corticosteroid.
  • Consider liquid nutritional supplementation if individual is unable to eat.
  • Utilize holding chamber
Decreased appetite  related to impact of disease, depression and/or social isolation
  • Assess nutritional intake and  eating habits.
  • Consider alternative eating environments (e.g., church-based or community- based volunteer programs)
  • Promote easy meal  preparation alternatives (e.g., meals on wheels)
  • Encourage individuals to eat slowly and  chew  food well. Smaller meals (5-6 small meals/day) are ideal  for encouraging adequate nutritional intake. 
  • Avoid drinking while eating or carbonated beverages to prevent gas swallowing.
  • Gas producing foods  such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and  onions should be avoided.
Early satiety during meals
  • Avoid drinking liquids one  hour prior to meal  time.
  • Cold meals instead of hot meals, as hot meals create a sense of fullness.
  • Consider liquid nutritional supplementation, to compensate for inadequate nutritional intake.
  • Recommend high fibre foods  and  drinking of fluids.
  • Promote mobility by encouraging exercise/activity as tolerated.


Chronic Disease
Nursing Care of Dyspnea: The 6th Vital Sign in Individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Point of Care Resources