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Setting Up an Asthma Action Plan

written by: K. A. Arbuckle • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 9/20/2010

An asthma action plan can be an important part of the overall care of an asthmatic. The plan contains specific information designed to personalize the treatment options for asthmatics.

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    Asthma

    Asthma is a breathing condition caused by inflammation of the airways that affects over 300 million people worldwide. Asthma can have several triggers, including exercise, allergens, pollution, smoke, dander, and dust. Preventing and controlling asthma attacks protects the lungs and airways from damage and is an important part of an asthma treatment program. An asthma management plan can help in controlling asthma.

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    What Does the Plan Include?

    An asthma action plan keeps track of medication and when it should be taken. It monitors symptoms, which informs you or your child and health care providers about the level of control. This allows for more personalized medication and prevention regimens. Over time, it establishes when asthma attacks occur most frequently. An action plan also can include peak flow meter readings. These readings inform the medical care provider of the performance of the lungs. If any allergies trigger asthma attacks, an action plan is the ideal place to list them. It also should include emergency contact information, doctors' contact information, and where to go in case of an emergency.

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    Uses for a Plan

    The plan is especially useful for children to have at daycare, school, or camp. It informs their care providers, teacher, or nurse what asthma medication they need, dosages, and when to administer them. The plan can also list triggers, which helps those caring for a child to know what to avoid. For example, some children have attacks after eating certain foods or after exercising. This information is important for the caregiver or teacher to know to help avoid an asthma attack. It can also be helpful to adults at work in case of severe asthma attacks. It can also help adults monitor their progress and schedule their medications.

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    Making an Asthma Action Plan

    Numerous action plans are available for printing, or you can ask your doctor for one. An asthma management plan usually includes zones. The zones are color-coded in green, yellow, and red. All of the zones monitor medications, doses, and when they were taken. The green zone is for daily use when no symptoms are present. The yellow zone signals cation due to symptoms such as wheezing and coughing or nighttime coughing. This signals that the asthmatic was exposed to a trigger or that control through medications may not be working. If symptoms of the yellow zone occur for more than 24 hours, seek medical care. The red zone is for emergencies due to severe attacks. When the earlier symptoms escalate even when medication is given or the asthmatic has other symptoms, such as difficulty walking or talking, immediate medical care should be sought. The action plan should go with the asthmatic to the emergency room so that treatments can be tailored based on what medications the person is on and the severity of the attack.

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    References

    MayoClinic.com: Asthma in children: Creating an Asthma Action Plan

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/HQ00273

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Asthma Action Plan

    http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/actionplan.html

    American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Asthma Statistics

    http://www.aaaai.org/media/statistics/asthma-statistics.asp

    Kidshealth.org: What's an Asthma Action Plan

    http://kidshealth.org/parent/managing_asthma/charge/action_plan.html