Asthma: Using an Asthma Action Plan
British Columbia Specific Information
Asthma is a common chronic condition that causes your airway to narrow and swell. You may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, coughing, and wheezing. Symptoms may range from being mildly annoying to deadly. For this reason it is important to speak with a health care provider if you think you may have asthma.
For more information about asthma, visit the Asthma Society of Canada or the BC Lung Association or call the Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-566-LUNG(5864). You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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If you or your child has asthma that requires daily treatment, it is important to have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is a written plan that tells you what asthma medicine to take every day and how to treat an asthma attack. It can help you make quick decisions in case you are not able to think clearly during an attack.
An asthma action plan usually includes:
- Treatment goals, which include your personal goals about your asthma.
- An outline of the medicines you take daily for asthma control and when to take them.
- An asthma diary where you can keep track of your symptoms, triggers, and other things that can help you manage asthma.
- Steps to take and medicines to use to treat an asthma attack early, before it becomes severe.
- What to do if an attack becomes an emergency, and where to get medical treatment.
Using an asthma action plan can help you stay active with fewer asthma problems. Following your plan is a big step toward controlling the disease so you can live the life you want.
How to use an asthma action plan
Develop your plan
- Work with your doctor to make an asthma action plan (What is a PDF document?) for you or your child. An action plan is based on zones defined by your symptoms, your peak flow, or both. There are three zones: green, yellow, and red. Your action plan tells you what to do when you are in each zone.
- Let your doctor know what you want regarding asthma care. For example, if you are not sure how to use your inhalers, tell your doctor.
- If you make an asthma action plan for your child, give a copy to the child's school or caregivers and make sure they know how to use it.
Follow your daily treatment, and use the asthma action plan
- Take your daily medicines to help minimize long-term damage and avoid asthma attacks.
- Check your peak flow regularly, if your doctor recommends it. This can help you know how well your lungs are working.
- Check your action
plan to see what zone you are in.
- If you are in the green zone, keep taking your daily asthma medicines as prescribed.
- If you are in the yellow zone, you may be having or will soon have an asthma attack. You may or may not have any symptoms, but your lungs are not working as well as they should. Take the medicines listed in your action plan. If you stay in the yellow zone, your doctor may need to increase the dose or add a medicine.
- If you are in the red zone, follow your action plan and call your doctor. If you can't get in touch with your doctor, go to the emergency department. Call 911 right away if you are having severe trouble breathing.
- Use an asthma diary (What is a PDF document?) to track your peak flow readings and/or symptoms. If you have an attack, write down what caused it (if you know), the symptoms, and what medicine you took.
Review the plan with your doctor
- Take both the asthma action plan and the asthma diary when you see your doctor. Get answers to any questions you have about your asthma plan or your symptoms. Let your doctor know if treatment is not controlling your asthma attacks.
- Take your medicines so your doctor can review your treatment. Also take your peak flow meter if you have one.
- Make sure you know how and when to call your doctor or go to the hospital.
- Tell your doctor if you are having trouble following your action plan.
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as ofAugust 18, 2016
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