People suffering from COPD may qualify for Pulmonary Rehabilitation through Medicare. Finding help for COPD is important to manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. A pulmonary rehabilitation program may help individuals improve their quality of life, decrease the frequency of flareups, and increase their lifespan.
What is COPD?
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic disease affecting the lungs. The condition is characterized by symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, tiredness, wheezing, and swelling throughout the legs. In most cases, COPD is caused by long-term smoking or exposure to harmful chemicals or irritants in the air. In these cases, the lungs have become damaged over time and enter a state of chronic inflammation. This inflammation can lead to excess mucous production which causes coughing and trouble breathing. Most people with COPD usually experience a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
While most cases in the U.S. are related to smoking, there is also a small percentage of people with a genetic disease that leads to the destruction of the lungs and the development of COPD. This condition is called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha-1-antitrypsin is a protein produced in the liver and it helps protect the lungs. Insufficient levels of this protein can lead to lung damage and the development of COPD.
What Does COPD Rehabilitation Entail?
A pulmonary rehabilitation program focuses on educating participants on how to live the best life possible while dealing with COPD. Participants are taught about lung function and how to manage shortness of breath. Shortness of breath makes physical activity such as exercise more difficult. A pulmonary rehab program will provide supervised exercise training to help participants learn how to go about exercising safely. The program will address many different aspects of lifestyle and how to best optimize one’s health in the face of COPD.
Medicare Part B may provide help covering the costs of a pulmonary rehabilitation program for those suffering from moderate to severe COPD. The program may require a referral and the doctor must accept assignment. Participants will be responsible for 20% of the Medicare-approved amount as well as the Part B deductible. If the program is done in a hospital outpatient setting, a copayment may also be required.
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