Everyone who has asthma should work with their physician to have a written Asthma Action Plan. If you have been diagnosed with asthma and your doctor doesn't offer you one, you should be asking for one.
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 doctor’s name and phone number and a local emergency phone number
*Lists of your long-term controler 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.
- Peak Flow numbers you should watch for.
- 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 (there is a sticky at the top of the message board with a list of these items).
- You may have difficulty doing some activities.
- If prescribed, you may increase the dosage of your controller medication.
- You will have increased use of your quick-relief inhaler.
- You may add use of a home 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 Danger Signs
- Your asthma has gotten worse. You feel awful.
- Your rescue inhaler is 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 steroid treatment to help get it back in control.
- Your Peak Flow is typically below 50% of your personal best.
- 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 so they can help. You won't really be in a position to help yourself much in this zone.
There is a lot of information on Asthma Action Plans on the internet. Here are a couple of the websites which provide useful information on them:
An Asthma Action Plan form recommended on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute government website:
Hope you find this helpful!