Asthma Action Plan – a friend indeed!

What is an Asthma Action Plan?
An asthma action plan is a written plan tailored to your needs to help you manage asthma attack episodes. The action plan is based on your symptoms and peak flow readings. The action plan describes your medication, how to take it and how to recognizes early signs of worsening of your asthma. It tells you what drugs to take when the disease starts to worsen and when to seek medical help.

What to do when your asthma gets worse?
Have a plan of action for those times when your asthma may get worse. Note that making decisions becomes more difficult as the severity of the attack increases. You should outline with your physician a course of action to be followed if your symptoms get worse or your peak flow rates decrease. Delaying treatment when asthma gets worse can lead to severe, even life-threatening, illness. If your asthma does not respond to your action plan, contact your physician.

What are the components of Asthma Action Plan?
An Asthma Action Plan takes into account the severity of your disease based on your symptoms and peak flow results. It is tailored according to your requirements. There are some components that are there in all action plans. Your physician depending on your needs may add a few more. These components are:

Asthma Symptoms
Asthma symptoms to watch for include, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Your plan will be based on the severity or seriousness of these symptoms. It describes the early warning signs of asthma and tells you how to start early active intervention to prevent an asthma attack from developing.

Peak Flow Rate recordings
Peak flow rate recordings measure how well you are breathing. If your reading drops, it means you are losing control of your disease. Depending upon the decrease, you can classify the readings into three color zones – green, yellow and red. Click here to read about the color zones.

Asthma Medications
Some asthma medications are taken routinely. Some medications are increased when your asthma gets worse. There are some medications that should only be taken when you are having an asthma episode. Together with your physician, you will develop instructions about when to take asthma medications.

Emergency Contact Numbers and Clinic’s location
Your written action plan should include information about who to call and where to get emergency care. Your physician will be able to give you telephone numbers and locations for emergency care during the day or night. You should also write down numbers of relatives, friends and other people who can help you in an emergency.

Specific Issues in Asthma Action Plan
• When should you call your physician?
• When should you seek emergency care?
• When is bronchodilator treatment not enough?
• When to increase inhaled steroids?
• When to start oral steroids?

How to be more compliant with your Asthma Action Plan?
Your asthma action plan can help you manage your asthma symptoms. Apart from you, give copies of your action plan to any other responsible family members or school personnel who can assist you in using and following the plan. Always remember to keep a copy of your action plan with you at all times for use in an emergency.

Review your action plan with your physician at least once a year. Your action plan may need to be changed or updated. Changes in your personal best or baseline peak flow rates or medications may mean your action plan also needs to be changed. Know about your specific action plans for different times of the year such as school times, pollen, summer and fall times. If you have questions or concerns about your action plan, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your physician.

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