Asthma Action Plan

‘Written Asthma Action Plan’ (EPR3 p115-120)

Anyone with asthma should have a written asthma plan- often called an Asthma Action Plan. Having a written asthma action plan was associated with a 70 percent reduction in risk of death, according to a study in the January 2001 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
If your provider/provider team does not give one to you- ask for one- OR write your own from one of these sites:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/lung/asthma/asthma_actplan.pdf
http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/tools_for_control.htm

Please pass the plan by your health care team to see if you filled it out correctly 🙂

These action plans can change- so if any medications change, be sure to get another asthma action plan.

An Asthma Action Plan is a guideline for you that indicates what types of treatment you should initiate depending on what types of symptoms you are having.

Typical Asthma Action Plans include:
-Your provider’s name and phone number and a local emergency phone number
-Lists of your long-term controller medications, dosages and how often you should use them.
-Lists of your quick relief medications, dosages and how often you should use them.

It should also provide you with information on monitoring your symptoms and provide instructions on how you should respond based upon your symptoms. They typically look something like this:

GREEN ZONE:
• You feel good (no wheezing, cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, etc...).
• Use long-term controller medications as prescribed (if you have them).
• Often directions to use your quick-relief medications prior to exercising.
• A list of things to avoid (triggers).
• Peak Flow numbers you should watch for.

YELLOW ZONE:
• Your asthma is getting worse. You do not feel good.
• You may have chest tightness, coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or other asthma early warning signs.
• You may have difficulty doing some activities.
• In the past, some providers recommending increasing controller medications (Has not been shown to help).
• You will have increased use of your quick-relief inhaler/nebulizer.
• If you don’t find relief from your quick-relief medication, you should probably seek medical attention.
• Your Peak Flow reading is probably 50-80% of your personal best.
RED ZONE:
• Your asthma has gotten worse. You may feel awful.
• Your rescue inhaler/nebulizations are not working for you.
• You should seek treatment from your doctor or call for emergency help depending on the severity of your symptoms.
• You may find that it is getting harder and harder to breathe.
• Many people in this zone often end up with oral/IV steroid treatment to help get it back in control.
• Your Peak Flow is typically below 50% of your personal best.
RED ZONE Danger Signs
• You cannot talk without taking breaths between words.
• Your lips or fingernails are turning blue.
• You are struggling to get a breath.
• You may start to panic.
• You should call for emergency help. If you are this bad, you should not try to take yourself to emergency. You may have an Epi-pen to use until help arrives.
• This zone is serious, know your plan of action of what to do and educate those around you (babysitters/family care givers) so they can help. You won't really be in a position to help yourself much in this zone.

Additional Pearl: Having an asthma action plan is one thing- knowing how to use it or recognize that you need to use is another! Consider asking your medical team scenarios on what you should do. For example- I have had a family that thought the cough was due to a cold/upper respiratory minor infection… and not asthma- so they did not enter the yellow zone of their plan. Cough is a cough- enter the yellow zone.

Consider labeling your asthma action plan as the “Refrigerator Plan”- because I would keep it on the refrigerator- so when you need it, you can find it!

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