What exactly is a death rattle?

What exactly is a death rattle? Does it have something to do with heavy breathing in the moments before death, or what?

I think it’s to do with the throat muscles relaxing and the soft tissues rattling in the breeze of the last few breaths.

I’ve always thought it referred to the sound of the respiratory secretions rattling around in the upper airways. A person who’s about to die lacks the reflex and/or strength to clear them (sort of like clearing your throat).

And I should have added that their presence does not mean death is imminent (i.e. seconds or minutes). More like (many) hours or even days.

It’s about the worst choice for a baby shower gift. :smiley: