How to Create an Asthma Action Plan

Three Methods:Creating an Asthma Action PlanUsing Your Asthma Action PlanTreating Asthma Medically

Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease that causes a narrowing of the breathing airways. Asthma sufferers experience recurring bouts of tightness in the chest, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asthma causes the breathing airways to be inflamed, which causes the airways to swell and be sensitive to environmental inhaled triggers. that can cause an asthma attack. Asthma attacks cause the airways to be even more swollen, which makes it hard to breath and can produce excess mucus.[1] If you suffer from asthma, develop an asthma plan to be prepared when you have an asthma attack.

Method 1
Creating an Asthma Action Plan

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    Figure out your triggers. Asthma attacks are caused by triggers. Triggers are different substances or events that cause your airways to become more inflamed, causing an attack. In order to write a detailed action plan, you need to be able to list all your triggers and how much they affect you. As time passes, keep a lookout for any new triggers and add them to your plan. Common triggers can include:
    • Irritants from cigarette smoke, chemicals in the air, fumes from cleaning and beauty products, and air pollution
    • Allergens from animal fur, dust, mold, cockroaches, grasses, trees, and flowers
    • Sickness such as colds and other viral infections of the lungs
    • Conditions such stress, heartburn (acid reflux), and sleep apnea
    • Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and nonselective beta-blockers
    • Exertion from exercise and other physical activities
    • Dry or cold air[2]
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    Record your peak flow rate in the AAP. A peak flow meter is a hand-held device that tests how well your lungs are working day to day. You should include a space on the action plan for recording your peak flow rate every day to check if your asthma is getting worse. Talk to your doctor about getting a peak flow meter.
    • A low measurement on a peak flow meter is an indication that your lungs are not working as well as they should be.[3]
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    Collect all additional relevant information. When you start to write your action plan, you need all of the relevant information that will help take care of an attack. These relevant facts include:
    • A list of all the medications you are taking, both long-term and short-term
    • What your ideal peak flow measurements are, which may be used with moderate to severe asthma patients and will be determined by your doctor.
    • Names and numbers of emergency contacts, which should include a loved ones, your doctor, and your local hospital[4]
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    Write your plan with your doctor and respiratory therapist. Your asthma action plan requires you to understanding your condition and know your asthma history. The plan is a written document that outlines the steps you need to take in order to deal with your asthma and stop it from getting worse. You need your doctor and respiratory therapist to help you outline the best set of steps to help treat your asthma anywhere you go.
    • In preparation for your plan, you doctor may have you track your symptoms so you know what triggers you the most and to what extent. [5]
    • Your plan will outline the three levels of urgency when dealing with an asthma attack and give you guidelines on when you need to call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention.[6]
    • If you want a base action plan to start from, you can download one from the American Lung Association.
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    Determine your Green Zone. The American Lung Association recommends that your action plan be divided into three sections called zones. These zones reflect the severity of your asthma attack. The Green Zone is when you have no problem breathing, you are not coughing or wheezing, and you can go about your daily activities like normal.[7]
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    Figure out your Yellow Zone. The second section, called the Yellow Zone, is the zone that you need when you are experiencing some kind of asthma symptoms but not a full on asthma attack. You are in the Yellow Zone if you are coughing, wheezing, and a tight chest. These symptoms may also wake you up at night.
    • If you find yourself in the Yellow Zone, get away from any triggers, if possible and then take time to breath deep and slow down. [8]
    • This is the time where you might need to take some prescription quick-relief medication.
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    Determine your Red Zone. The Red Zone, which is the most severe, means you are having an asthma attack. If you are in this zone, you are breathing fast and hard, you can't walk or talk well, and your rescue medication is not working. This is the stage where you may need emergency care if you cannot get your asthma attack under control.
    • This section should include any rescue medications such as inhaled corticosteroids that are prescribed by your physician.[9][10]

Method 2
Using Your Asthma Action Plan

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    Benefit from your asthma action plan. Writing your asthma plan is only the first step. Once you have it written, you need use the plan every day to keep up with your asthma. Be aware of what zone you are in every day and make sure you follow the instructions laid out by your doctor and respiratory therapist.
    • You can track the pattern of your asthma with you action plan, which can help you pinpoint new triggers or if your asthma is getting worse, despite following your plan.[11]
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    Give your plan to the right people. You may want to give your asthma action plan to those you work with in case you have an attack at work. This way, those around you will know what to look for and have all the relevant emergency contact information in case you have a severe attack. You may want to also provide a copy to your partner or any individuals living in your home with you.
    • If you child has asthma, share his asthma action plan with his school, daycare center, or other institution that he spends large amounts of time.[12]
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    Keep the plan in a safe, accessible place. Once you have finalized the action plan with your doctor, you should keep a copy on your person and a copy in a place in your home that is safe and accessible. [13]
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    Adjust your plan based on your symptoms and treatment. You should review your action plan during every doctor’s visit to ensure the plan is up to date with your asthma symptoms and your asthma treatment. If there are changes made to your asthma treatment, such as new medications, or if you develop another asthma trigger, add it to the action plan. Keeping the action plan as current as possible will ensure it is effective and relative to your condition.[14]
    • Reviewing the action plan with your doctor regularly will also ensure you are taking the right dosage of your medication and your action plan is reflective of your doctor’s instructions.
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    Talk to your doctor if you asthma isn't getting better. If you are using an asthma plan but your asthma is not under control, you may require a treatment change. This will help you get the best treatment possible for your asthma.
    • The inverse of this is also true. If your asthma seems well controlled for a long period of time, your doctor may reduce the amount of medication you take on a daily basis.[15]

Method 3
Treating Asthma Medically

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    Learn if you are at risk. Asthma tends to develop during childhood and is more common in boys than girls at this stage. However, it can develop any gender at any age and adult females are at higher risk than adult males.[16]
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    Recognize the symptoms of asthma. There are a few common symptoms of asthma. If you suffer from these issues often, talk to your doctor to help diagnose asthma or some other issues. These symptoms include:
    • Coughing, which is typically worse early in the morning or at night
    • Wheezing, which is a squeaking or whistling sound emitted during a breath
    • Tightness in the chest
    • Shortness of breath[17]
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    See your doctor. If you believe you have asthma, go see your doctor. She will check for a history of symptoms and any family history of the condition. She will also help you decide what the best medication is for your type of asthma and pinpoint your triggers.[18]
    • Asthma manifests in two ways: as intrinsic, non-allergic asthma and as extrinsic, allergic asthma. Extrinsic asthma is the most common, which is triggered by inhaled substances and directly involves an immune response. Intrinsic asthma is all trigger based, and triggered by exercise, cold air, stress, and dry air.
    • Either form can be mild, moderate, or severe.[19]
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    Use short-term medication to control asthma. One of the components of an asthma plan is to list your medications. To help treat your asthma in the short-term, use rescue medications, typically inhalers, such as levalbuterol (Xopenex), albuterol (ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA), pirbuterol (Maxair), and ipratropium (Atrovent).
    • You can also use short-acting corticosteroids. [20]
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    Treat asthma with long-term medications. In order to treat your asthma over the long term, you will likely need a long-term medication. There are many different kinds, so consult your doctor to find which one works for you. Long-term medications to include:
    • Inhaled corticosteroids, such as budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler), ciclesonide (Alvesco), fluticasone (Flovent HFA), beclomethasone (Qvar), flunisolide (Aerobic), and mometasone (Asmanex)
    • Cromolyn
    • Long-acting beta agonists, such as salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil, Perforomist)
    • Biological medicines, such as zileuton (Zyflo), montelukast (Singulair), Omalizumab (Zolair), and zafirlukast (Accolate)
    • Theophylline[21]


  • Patients with an increased BMI are at more risk for developing asthma than those with normal BMI.
  • The four essential goals of asthma treatment include: monitoring lung function, patient education, control of triggers, and treatment of co-occurring diseases.

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Categories: Asthma