December 06, 2021 | Tags: Healthy Outlooks Wellness

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may also be known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. COPD develops slowly, with symptoms becoming worse over time and possibly limiting a person’s ability to do everyday activities. The signs are frequently brushed off as a natural part of aging, which is why COPD is often not diagnosed until symptoms are severe. Common symptoms of COPD include:

  • Shortness of breath while doing everyday activities
  • Producing excess sputum
  • Frequent cough often called “smoker’s cough”
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling like you can’t breathe or are unable to take deep breaths

What causes COPD?

Long-term exposure to irritants that damage the lungs and airways, like smoke from tobacco products, is most often the cause of COPD. Secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes or dusts from the environment or workplace can be a cause. Some people who have asthma can also develop COPD.

Diagnosis

Your primary care provider (PCP) can diagnose COPD based on your symptoms, family history and diagnostic tests, including spirometry. Experts recommend asking for a spirometry test if you are over the age of 40 and have any COPD symptoms or lung disease.

Prevention

There are things you can do to help prevent COPD before it starts and to prevent complications and slow the progression if you already have it.

Don’t use tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars and pipes. If you need help quitting, call the Medical Mutual QuitLine toll free at 1-866-845-7702. It’s a free program for Medical Mutual members and includes complimentary nicotine replacement therapy like patches or gum.

Make sure you get vaccinated against COVID-19 and talk to your healthcare provider about flu and pneumonia vaccines. These vaccines can lower your chances of getting these illnesses, which are major health risks for people who have COPD.

Management of COPD

COPD has no cure, so getting diagnosed and treated early is the best approach.

Schedule an appointment with your PCP at least once a year for a checkup. And don’t wait to make an appointment if you have any concerns about your health. If you don’t have a PCP, you can use the Find a Provider tool after logging in to My Health Plan .

Your PCP will help you develop a plan to ease symptoms, slow the progression of COPD, prevent complications, and improve your ability to exercise, and improve your overall quality of life.

Talk to your PCP to see if a referral to a lung specialist (pulmonologist) is right for you.

Medical Mutual’s Chronic Condition Management Program

If you have been diagnosed with COPD, you may be eligible to enroll in our Chronic Condition Management program. Telephonic coaching and advanced remote monitoring may be available to help you better manage your condition at no extra cost.

If you have questions about your benefits coverage, finding a PCP, QuitLine or our Chronic Condition Management program, call Customer Care at the number listed on the front of your member ID card.