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Asthma: Using an Asthma Action Plan

Introduction

If you or your child has asthma that requires daily treatment, it is important to have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is a written plan that tells you what asthma medicine to take every day and how to treat an asthma attack. It can help you make quick decisions in case you are not able to think clearly during an attack.

An asthma action plan usually includes:

  • Treatment goals, which include your personal goals about your asthma.
  • An outline of the medicines you take daily for asthma control and when to take them.
  • An asthma diary where you record peak expiratory flow (PEF) and the triggers that cause asthma symptoms.
  • Steps to take and medicines to use to treat an asthma attack early, before it becomes severe.
  • What to do if an attack becomes an emergency, and where to get medical treatment.

Using an asthma action plan can help you stay active with fewer asthma problems. Following your plan is a big step toward controlling the disease so you can live the life you want.

How To

Develop your plan

  • Work with your doctor to make an asthma action planasthma action plan(What is a PDF document?) for you or your child. The action plan is based on peak flow and asthma symptoms. These help your doctor know how bad your asthma is. An action plan may include:
    • The peak flow readings and symptoms for each zone.
    • What medicines to take in each zone.
    • When to call a doctor.
    • A list of emergency contact numbers.
    • A list of your asthma triggers.
  • Let your doctor know what you want regarding asthma care. For example, if you are not comfortable using a peak flow meter, tell your doctor.
  • If you make an asthma action plan for your child, give a copy to the child's school or caregivers and make sure they know how to use it.

Follow your daily treatment, and use the asthma action plan

  • Take your daily medicines to help minimize long-term damage and avoid asthma attacks.
  • Check your peak flow regularly, such as every morning. This is the best way to know how well your lungs are working.
  • Check your action plan to see what zone you are in.
    • If you are in the green zone (peak flow is 80% to 100% of your personal best), keep taking your daily asthma medicines as prescribed.
    • If you are in the yellow zone (peak flow is 50% to 79% of your personal best), you may be having or will soon have an asthma attack. You may not have any symptoms, but your lungs are not working as well as they should. Take the medicines listed in your action plan. If you stay in the yellow zone, your doctor may need to increase the dose or add a medicine.
    • If you are in the red zone (peak flow is less than 50% of your personal best), follow your action plan. If your symptoms or peak flow don't improve soon, you may need to go to the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital.
  • Use an asthma diaryasthma diary(What is a PDF document?). Write down your peak flow readings in the asthma diary. If you have an attack, write down what caused it (if you know), the symptoms, and what medicine you took.

Review the plan with your doctor

  • Take both the asthma action plan and the asthma diary when you see your doctor. Get answers to any questions you have about your asthma plan or your symptoms. Let your doctor know if treatment is not controlling your asthma attacks.
  • Take your peak flow meter and medicines so your doctor can review your treatment.
  • Make sure you know how and when to call your doctor or go to the hospital.
  • Tell your doctor if you are having trouble following your action plan.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised March 14, 2013

Last Revised: March 14, 2013

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