Signs of Approaching Death

There are specific signs and symptoms that indicate life is coming to an end. Some physical signs include increased sleepiness, irregular heartbeat, decreased intake of food, etc. This article provides some information on the same.
Preparing for death and letting go of a person, whom we love dearly is the most painful moment of our life. Many times, it is observed that the exact time of the death of a person does not match with the physician's predictions. That is why, we can assume that life is unpredictable, even on the approach of death. The period before the actual time of death can be divided into two phases viz. preactive and active phase of dying. The former phase usually lasts for 1-2 weeks, while the latter lasts for about three days. However, there are exceptions to the duration of both the phases.

Some Signs

Though the stages of death of a person depend upon his/her metabolic state and the condition of the disease, there are certain signs and symptoms that can be observed, especially in a person who is dying. Following are some of the signs:
  • One most common sign is the loss of appetite; the affected person may not feel hungry. It is due to the fact that the body no longer needs the nourishment like it did before. The relatives and/or the loved ones should not force the affected person to eat or drink, as it can cause discomfort like abdominal pain.
  • The affected person may have apnea, i.e. pause between breaths; an extra long breathing pause indicates that death is very close. It is normal to breathe fifteen times per minute. A dying person's breathing rate may increase to as high as 50 per minute or as low as 10 per minute.
  • Another notable sign is the change in skin color and temperature. A drop in the skin temperature indicates that the function of the circulatory system has slowed down. The blood no longer circulates in the extreme body parts such as the hands and feet, hence, skin on the hands and feet turn bluish in color.
  • Even if he/she is not affected by hypotension, the blood pressure becomes very low. The heart rhythm is abnormal, it may increase or decrease.
  • As the person is dying, the body's immune system becomes weak. Hence, there will be slow healing. Usually, swelling of the feet and hands may also be observed.
  • Very often, a dying person makes a gurgling noise. It is due to the fluid accumulated in the throat and lungs, which the person is unable to cough up or swallow.
  • As one's life is coming to an end, his/her body metabolism changes from the normal condition. This makes him/her feel drowsy and sleepy. It may be very difficult to wake up a dying person from sleep.
  • Since the body system is not functioning properly, it affects the normal bladder and bowel movement of the dying person. The urine color may be darkened or shows an abnormal color such as brown or red. He/she may have no control over the bladder and bowel movement.
It is to be noted that not all the persons who are dying may show the aforementioned symptoms. In addition to these physical signs, psychological signs like unusual communication, disorientation, hallucination, and restlessness can be observed. Knowing these signs and symptoms will help us to be aware if death is approaching or not. If any family member or friend of the affected person observes any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is advisable to consult and/or discuss this with the concerned physician.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.