What is an Asthma Action Plan
An Asthma action plan has details on preventing asthma triggers, controlling and managing asthma symptoms, etc. The plan includes general information about the medications that a person is prescribed by the doctor. This plan acts as a guide for an asthmatic and others around him or her, who can help to manage asthma flare-ups. The aim of this plan is to monitor symptoms, take the correct actions when symptoms are worsening, and thus prevent life threatening situations such as an asthma attack. This will also help to avoid emergency hospital visits.
The asthma action plan clearly defines the decision (action) points, expected response, expected time of response, appropriate medications for different signs and symptoms, etc. This action plan is a written, worksheet that includes steps to prevent the worsening of asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightening. It provides guidance on when can asthma symptoms be managed at home and when to call the doctor. A written asthma action plan is recommended by national and international guidelines and every asthmatic must develop this plan with a doctor’s supervision for the early treatment of asthma symptoms.
Importance Of An Asthma Action Plan
Asthmatics can monitor their asthma with the help of this action plan. It is not only for the reference of asthmatics but it also helps others around them to take care of emergencies. This plan is an important tool to share with the closest family and friends of an asthmatic so that they are prepared for emergencies. For children who are asthmatic, the asthma action plan must be shared with school teachers and day care providers as well.
How To Develop an Asthma Action Plan
Every asthmatic will have a different type of asthma and they will experience different patterns of symptoms, therefore each asthmatic must have a unique action plan meant only for them. The purpose of creating this plan is to prevent and control asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. This plan must be divided in three zones based on different situations. It should include general information such as:
• The triggers that make asthma symptoms worse
• Medications that the asthmatic has been taken as per doctor’s prescription
• Doses and frequencies of daily medications
• How to use a peak flow meter and read the measurements that indicate the worsening of asthma
• Which medicine or inhaler must be taken based on the symptoms and signs experienced by the asthmatic
• Phone numbers of family, healthcare provider and the local hospital to contact in case of emergencies
The Three Zones
• Green: When an asthmatic is not experiencing symptoms the situation is fine. He or she must be able to exercise easily and sleep well at night. Also, the peak flow rate must be 80% of personal best.
• Yellow: The asthmatic is experiencing signs and symptoms of asthma, and not able to sleep at night, then there is a need to monitor the symptoms. If the peak flow meter reading is 60% to 80% this is considered as yellow zone. An asthmatic under yellow zone should make sure to take the quick-relief medications.
• Red: The symptoms worsen and the asthmatic finds it difficult to talk and breathe. If the peak flow meter reading is less than 60% of the personal best, an asthmatic is said to be under red zone. For an asthmatic under red zone, after taking quick-relief medications, doctor’s immediate attention is needed as it can cause asthma attack.
Things To Keep In Mind While Making An Effective Asthma Action Plan
• Ask the doctor to keep the medical terms simplified, so that instructions can be understood easily
• Make sure to consult the doctor and discuss in detail about the guidelines mentioned in the plan, on how to manage asthma signs and symptoms at home
• Ask the doctor to include all steps which can be followed to prevent an emergency hospital visit
• Understand the instructions on avoiding triggers, and other respiratory infections, clear all the doubts with the doctor regarding the same
• Ask the doctor to include the contact information of your nearest hospitals, for emergencies. Along with this, also add the contact of your care giver
• When the level of control changes, the plan must be adjusted or updated as per the need, and reviewed with the caregiver