Creating an Asthma Action Plan
The Asthma Action Plan, which you develop with your doctor, shows you how to adjust your medicines depending on your symptoms and peak flow readings. An Asthma Action Plan is a written, individualized worksheet. It lists the steps to take to prevent your asthma from getting worse. It also provides guidance on when to call your doctor or when to go to the emergency room right away.
What should be included in your Asthma Action Plan?
- Your name
- Your emergency contact information
- Contact information for your doctor
- Your asthma severity classification
- A list of your asthma triggers
An Asthma Action Plan is divided into three zones (green, yellow and red).
- The green zone is where you want to be on a daily basis. In this zone, you have no asthma symptoms and you feel good. Continue to take your long-term controller medicine(s) even if you’re feeling well.
- The yellow zone means that you are experiencing symptoms. This is where you should slow down and follow your quick-relief medicine steps to keep your asthma from getting worse. Continue to take your long-term controller medicine(s).
- The red zone means you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms or an asthma flare-up. Follow your steps for this zone and get immediate medical treatment if your symptoms do not improve.
You should work with your doctor to determine your zones. Your Asthma Action Plan can be based on your peak flow rate or your asthma symptoms.
Peak Flow Rate - Peak flow monitoring is recommended for people with moderate to severe asthma. Your peak flow rate can show if your asthma is getting worse, even before you feel symptoms. Your peak flow rate is measured with a peak flow meter. To use your peak flow rate to determine the zones on your Asthma Action Plan, you will first need to spend some time determining your personal best. Your personal best is the highest peak flow number you achieve in a two to three week period. Your doctor will use your personal best peak flow rate to calculate the zones in your Asthma Action Plan.
Assess and Monitor Your Control
Monitoring your symptoms is an important step in controlling your asthma. There are four key symptoms that you should monitor to help you keep your asthma under control:
- Daytime Symptoms. How often do you have asthma symptoms during the day, such as: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath?
- Nighttime Symptoms. How often do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms, such as: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath?
- Rescue Inhaler Use. How often do you use your rescue inhaler to relieve asthma symptoms?
- Activity Level. How often do you have difficulty performing normal activities, such as: walking, climbing stairs or completing daily chores?
Keep a journal or diary to help you monitor your symptoms. This can be an important communication tool to share with you doctor about your asthma. Also, it can help you determine if your asthma is getting worse.
Tracking asthma symptoms is a very important part of any Asthma Action Plan.
Your Asthma Action Plan will include your medicines and instructions for what to do when you are feeling well, what to do when you have asthma symptoms and what to do when your asthma symptoms are getting worse. It should include:
- The names of your medicines
- Doses for all your medicines
- Frequency for taking your medicines
The dose and frequency may change depending on your asthma zone.
What to Do in an Emergency
The Red Zone of your Asthma Action Plan tells you the steps you need to take in an emergency situation. This portion of your plan should include emergency phone numbers for:
- Your doctor
- Your emergency department
- Your family/friends that you will need for support