Do you have a chronic cough? It’s not always easy to identify the cause, according to the Mayo Clinic, and it can disrupt your sleep and your life in general. Chronic cough is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor, reports a Harvard Medical School newsletter.

What’s considered a chronic cough?

If your cough continues for eight weeks or longer, that’s a chronic cough, the Mayo Clinic states. For children, it’s four weeks or longer that indicates a chronic cough.

What can cause a chronic cough?

Smoking is the most common cause of a chronic cough, according to Harvard Medical School. Other causes that the Mayo Clinic lists are shown below. There can be many reasons for a chronic cough; this is not a complete list.

  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD – a condition where stomach acid can come up into your throat)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Postnasal drip
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Prescription medications to treat blood pressure (certain medications can cause chronic cough)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung cancer

How is chronic cough treated?

Doctors generally need to figure out the cause of your chronic cough so they can determine how to treat it. For example, if you have asthma, the doctor might prescribe asthma medications, according to the Mayo Clinic; if you have reflux issues, your health-care provider might suggest antacids. There are several different ways to treat a chronic cough, depending on the cause.

Does Medicare cover chronic cough treatment?

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover doctor visits and certain screenings, such as x-rays, if your doctor orders them for you and they’re medically necessary. Your doctor must accept Medicare assignment. The Part B deductible generally applies, and you typically pay a coinsurance amount for doctor visits and screenings.

What if your doctor prescribes medications for your chronic cough treatment? That’s a different story. Medicare Part B doesn’t cover most prescription drugs you take at home; it might cover certain medications administered to you in an outpatient setting. (Medicare Part A, or hospital insurance, usually only covers medications given to you as a hospital inpatient as part of your treatment.)

But you can generally get Medicare coverage for prescription drugs if you enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Available from private insurance companies that contract with Medicare, these plans might cover your prescription drugs. Each plan maintains its own formulary, or list of covered medications. A plan’s formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

If you have frequent doctor visits because of a chronic cough or other health issues, you might want to look into Medicare Supplement insurance. Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans may help cover Medicare Part A’s or Part B’s out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

As you can see, several different Medicare plan options may be available where you live. If you have questions, I’d be happy to help.

  • To set up a time to talk with me by phone, or have me email you customized information about Medicare plan options, you can follow the links on this page.

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