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What Goes In An Asthma Action Plan

Learn how to put together a plan for managing asthma, avoiding flares and seeking treatment during an emergency.

Medically reviewed in March 2022

No matter how mild or severe your asthma is, healthcare experts recommend that you have an Asthma Action Plan, a written document that you create with the help of your healthcare provider. This document details a series of strategic steps to managing your asthma, including:

  • How to monitor your breathing on a daily basis.
  • How to recognize that your symptoms are getting worse.
  • How and when to use your asthma medications, including long-term control medications and quick-acting relief medicines.
  • What your asthma triggers are and how to minimize exposure to these triggers at home, at work and at other places you frequent.
  • When to seek medical care for an attack.

Monitoring your breathing
For many patients, monitoring breathing with a peak flow meter is an important part of managing asthma. Your healthcare provider should guide you on how to use this tool to measure your lung function. Your healthcare provider can help you understand what your normal and optimal readings should be, and how to use your daily readings as a warning sign that asthma symptoms are getting worse. Readings are typically divided into three zones—green, yellow and red. Green is normal and yellow means airways are narrowing. Red means that the narrowing of the airways is severe. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on what to do in case of each reading.

Take medication as directed
Your asthma management plan should also include written instructions on exactly what types of medications you take, when to take them and how to take them. Nearly all patients with asthma will be prescribed a rescue inhaler to take during times when symptoms flare. It is also common for asthma patients to be prescribed treatments to take daily (such as corticosteroids or long-action bronchodilators) to help achieve long-term control over asthma symptoms and prevent flares.

Triggers
Your plan can also include notes of what substances and circumstances seem to trigger your asthma symptoms. This can help you modify your home, work and/or school environments in order to avoid triggers that can potentially make asthma symptoms worse.

Emergencies
Last but not least, your plan should also include the information you will need should an asthma attack become a medical emergency. This part of the plan will detail the symptoms of an emergency that requires immediate medical attention and instructions for using relief medications during a severe flare. Your plan should include a list of known allergies and other health conditions that emergency healthcare providers will need in order to treat you. It should also include telephone numbers for your emergency contacts, your healthcare provider and your local hospital.

How to start your Asthma Action Plan
Your healthcare provider may have a document that he or she fills out with patients. Several organizations, including the American Lung Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offer templates that patients can print and bring to their healthcare providers.

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