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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Guide

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) occurs when the airways in your lungs are blocked. Symptoms include frequent coughing/wheezing, excessive mucus production, and shortness of breath. The most common types of COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Affecting 16 million Americans, tobacco smoke is a key factor in COPD. To avoid getting COPD, avoid inhaling tobacco smoke, home and workplace air pollutants, and developing respiratory infections. Early detection of COPD may change its course and progress.

Learn more about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.


COPD treatment can relieve symptoms and increase exercise tolerance. Common treatment options include:

  • Quit smoking. For people who smoke, the most important part of treatment is to quit smoking. As a Sunshine Health member, you can get up to $20 when you complete four Tobacco Cessation Health Coaching Sessions. Learn more about Healthy Rewards.
  • Take medication. Talk to your doctor about medications that can treat your symptoms such as coughing or wheezing.
  • Avoid lung infections. Lung infections can cause serious problems in people with COPD. Certain vaccines, such as flu and pneumococcal vaccines, can help. Talk to your doctor about vaccination recommendations. Practice good handwashing techniques.  
  • Use supplemental oxygen. If your blood oxygen levels are low, you may need to use a portable oxygen tank. Ask your doctor about your options.

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Here are some benefits that you may qualify for if diagnosed with COPD:

  • Respiratory Services - Services that treat conditions, illnesses or diseases of the lungs or respiratory system.
  • Respiratory Therapy Services - Services for members ages 0-20 to help you breathe better while being treated for a respiratory condition, illness or disease.
  • Respiratory Therapy - Respiratory therapy in an office setting.
  • Case Management or Disease Management for care coordination needs and support with the management of your condition
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Benefit – With this benefit, you receive $25 a month that you can use you purchase OTC items like nicotine patches/gum to quit smoking and a pulse oximeter to manage your COPD.


Sunshine Health also offers the following rewards that you can earn if you’re trying to quit smoking to manage your COPD:

  • Up to $20 Tobacco Cessation Health Coaching Sessions: Age 10 and up. Must submit a consent form, verbally pledge to stop tobacco use and complete all four sessions within six months of the first session. $5 reward after each completed session.

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  • American Lung Association: The American Lung Association has a COPD Resource Library that provides videos, worksheets, and other tools for navigating your condition.
  • COPD Foundation: The COPD Foundation is a patient-centered organization committed to preventing COPD, bronchiectasis, and nontuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) lung disease, and to seeking cures while improving lives and advocating for all affected.
  • Krames Online Library: Visit the Krames Health Library to access thousands of health sheets on medications, conditions and more. 
  • Sunshine Health Community Resource Database: Find more free resources through Sunshine Health’s Community Resource Database. Enter your ZIP code to search for help with food, shelter, healthcare, money, school, jobs and more.

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Contact Sunshine Health Member Services at 1-866-796-0530 (TTY: 1-800-955-8770) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.