Maintaining good day-to-day asthma control is the key to keeping symptoms at bay and preventing asthma attacks. Having a written asthma action plan makes it better for you to check if your asthma is under control and it also keeps you updated regarding what steps to take when it isn’t. Using an asthma action plan is especially important if you have moderate to severe asthma or you’ve had a serious asthma attack in the past.
Creating your Asthma Action plan
Because asthma treatment differs from individual to individual, you are required to work with your doctor to develop a plan that’s suitable for you. Your action plan may also include keeping a diary, and can help you in the following ways:
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- Track asthma symptoms-The plan will help you keep checking on asthma signs and symptoms and record when your symptoms show up interference with daily activities, such as work, exercise or sleep. You may also want to know how often you use a quick-acting inhaler, to ease symptoms.
- A record peak flow readings-You may use a peak flow meter to check your asthma daily. This simple hand-held device checks how well your lungs are working. Lower measurements indicate that the lungs aren’t working and this is usually the initial sign that asthma is getting worse.
- Assess asthma control-The action plan will give you a proper system for making sense of the information you find out. Many asthma plans use a traffic light system of green, yellow and red zones that counteract to worsening symptoms. This system can help you immediately determine asthma severity and identify signs of an asthma attack.
- Adjust medications-Your plan should tell when you need to adjust medications based on the severity of your asthma symptoms. Asthma medications usually include long-term control medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, and as-needed, quick-acting medications, such as inhaled albuterol. Be sure that you understand the medications, its timings, its way of using and its result.
- Recognize and treat an asthma attack-Tracking symptoms regularly and adjusting treatment accordingly improves asthma control and diminishes the risk of having an asthma attack. But if symptoms get worse quickly, follow the action plan for using quick-acting medications or other steps to bring your symptoms under control.
- Know when to seek emergency care-Some asthma attacks cannot be controlled at home. Use the action plan to know the signs of rapidly worsening asthma. If you use a peak flow meter, the action plan will also tell you about when low peak flow readings signify that an asthma attack has become an emergency.
- Avoid asthma triggers-The action plan must consider your list of asthma triggers and notes on how to avoid them. These vary from person to person, like exercise, cold air, pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, etc.
Keep your action plan available
Once you and your doctor have figured your asthma action plan, keep it handy in case you have an asthma flare-up. Also, share your plan with a family member or friend who can take care of you in the case of an emergency. Keep a copy in your wallet in case an asthma attack occurs when you are not at home. List your doctor’s phone number, emergency phone numbers and the location of the nearest emergency room on your asthma plan. And always carry a rescue inhaler with you and keep the second one at home as a part of good asthma care.
Meet regularly with your Doctor
Work with your doctor to keep your asthma action plan updated. Asthma changes over time, so your plan may require adjustments periodically.
- Go to all scheduled appointments-Review your asthma action plan at every doctor visit. Inform your doctor about any problems you’re having in following the plan. These checkups are also a good time to double-check that you’re tracking symptoms accurately and using your asthma medicines
- If asthma isn’t under control, see your doctor-If you’re following the asthma care plan, but the symptoms are still uncontrollable, a treatment change may be needed. On the other hand, if your asthma is controlled well in time, your doctor may be able to reduce the dosage of medication you take.
- Call your doctor if you have concerns-If you have any queries or you’re simply concerned about your asthma signs and symptoms, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment.
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Having asthma shouldn’t affect your regular activities, interrupt sleep or leave you constantly worrying about having an asthma attack. By carefully following a written plan, you can succeed in asthma management and minimize the disruptions it causes.