End-stage wet respirations, knowns as death rattles occur when secretions build up in the patient's throat and airway. These secretions are normal and consist of saliva, mucous and any other liquids introduced into the patient's mouth via wet sponges to moisten his or her mouth, liquids taken with medications, etc. A healthy person can normally clear his or her throat and swallow or spit out any excess secretions. At the end of life, however, a patient might become to weak to clear his or her throat and swallow these secretions. Altered level of consciousness can impair a patient's ability to clear her or her throat as well. In these cases, secretions build up and cause a loud, rattling sound when air passes through the airway.
Things you can do to eliminate or minimize death-rattle for your loved one include: