One of asthma’s most frustrating qualities is its episodic nature—it comes and goes, often flaring unpredictably. Did you know there’s a way you can keep track of every asthma attack, whether minor or severe?
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers a helpful solution: an “Asthma Action Plan.” This is a personalized worksheet that outlines the steps to take to keep your asthma from getting worse—an asthma cheat sheet, if you will.
The plan helps you:
- Manage your daily treatment, such as what kind of medicines to take and when
- Monitor long-term treatment
- Track worsening symptoms or attacks
Most important, the plan explains when you need to call the doctor or go to the emergency room.
The action plan form follows a traffic light pattern using the colors green, yellow, and red. The green zone indicates no symptoms, yellow indicates few symptoms, and red indicates severe symptoms requiring immediate medical attention. The form is a template that can be tailored to your specific symptoms, medications, and other needs.
Your action plan can be based on peak flow rate or asthma symptoms. Peak flow rate is determined with a hand-held device that measures how air flows from your lungs. Monitoring peak flow rate helps you determine when your asthma is getting worse, even before you feel the symptoms. This is especially important for people who experience moderate to severe asthma attacks.
Another way to structure your plan is by tracking your symptoms. Asthma symptoms indicating a problem include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and low activity levels that prevent you from working or exercising.
Your action plan also will include a list of medicines and instructions for dosage and frequency that are appropriate for each asthma zone. Some asthma medicines relax the muscles in your airways to help you breathe easier, while other treatments reduce the swelling and mucus production. It is important to consult your doctor about which medicine is right for you.
This plan is especially important for emergency preparedness. Asthma attacks can become life-threatening; therefore, it is crucial to have a procedure in place that takes this into account. Ultimately, you can be ready for any scenario and help contain fickle flare-ups.
View our post “Asthma: A Lesson in Life and Lung Management” to learn three ways you can manage your asthma.
If you do not have a written asthma action plan, take this Asthma Action Plan form to your doctor so you can document—and make sure you understand—the strategy for managing your asthma.