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Putting Your Asthma Action Plan Into Action

Asthma image

An action plan is a written, customized plan to help you take action to manage your asthma. If you know what to watch for and what steps to take, you will be able to make timely and appropriate decisions about managing your condition and keeping your asthma from getting worse. The action plan is based on changes in respiratory symptoms and peak flow numbers, and it will

give you and your family information about when and how to use daily medications, emergency medications, and your peak flow meter;

help you decide when to call your healthcare provider and when to seek emergency medical care; and

serve as an easy place to keep your crisis intervention plan, self-management instructions, and written guidelines.

Keep a current action plan with you at all times for use in an emergency.

Components of an Asthma Action Plan
Action plans should be individualized. Your healthcare provider will develop an action plan specifically for you, and your action plan should include the following information:

  • Peak flow numbers and peak flow zones
    Peak flow numbers measure how well you are breathing. If your peak flow number drops, it means you are having trouble breathing. Peak flow zones can be used to signal when your peak flow drops a certain percentage. Your healthcare provider will consider certain characteristics of your asthma and help you determine your zones.
  • Asthma symptoms
    Your action plan should tell you what to do when you experience asthma symptoms and when you need to increase treatments to manage asthma symptoms. Your plan will be based on the severity or seriousness of these symptoms.
  • Asthma medications
    Together with your healthcare provider, you will develop instructions about when to take asthma medications.
  • Emergency telephone numbers and locations of emergency care
    Your written action plan should include information about whom to call and where to get emergency care. Your healthcare provider will be able to give you telephone numbers and locations for emergency care during the day or night. You should also include numbers of relatives, friends, and other people who can help you in an emergency.

Making Your Asthma Action Plan Work for You
Your action plan can help you manage your asthma symptoms. Here are tips to make sure it’s available and updated for you to use:

  • Photocopy your written plan and give it to those who can assist you in using the plan, including your spouse or significant other, relatives, and work personnel.
  • Keep a current action plan with you at all times for use in an emergency.
  • Review your action plan with your healthcare provider at least once a year. Changes in your personal best or baseline peak flow number or medications may mean your action plan also needs to be changed.
  • If you ever have questions or concerns about your action plan, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Source: National Jewish Health,

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, March/April 2011.