When a person is dying, physical symptoms include hands, feet and legs becoming cold; fingers, earlobes lips and nail beds turning a bluish or grey color; reduced blood pressure; and an increased but weaker heart rate. Fever is also common near death, according to Compassion and Support
A dying person's need for and interest in food and eventually fluids gradually decreases since the body no longer needs large amounts of energy and the digestive system slows down, states Compassion and Support. As the dying person becomes dehydrated due to less fluid intake, he becomes sleepier and may be less aware of pain or discomfort.
Dying persons may have congested breathing from the buildup of secretions at the back of the throat. Although this can be distressing for family members, it is not painful and can be managed, according to WebMD. As death approaches, the person may show a decline in bowel and bladder output as well as changes in sleep-wake patterns. The dying person's body temperature drops, and the skin of the knees, feet and hands turn a mottled bluish-purple. Once this mottling starts, death usually occurs within 24 hours. Breathing, punctuated by gasping starts and stops, slows until it stops entirely.