An asthma action plan (or management plan) is a written plan that you develop with your child's doctor to help control your child's asthma.
The goal of an asthma action plan is to reduce or prevent flare-ups and emergency department visits through day-to-day management. Having a written step-by-step plan in place provides clear instructions so you and your child can:
Experts recommend using a written plan as part of asthma treatment. Following a written asthma action plan can help your child do normal everyday activities without having asthma symptoms.
Each person's experience with asthma is different, so each action plan will be, too. A key part of any action plan will detail what needs to be done during a flare-up. For students, this may include permission for them to take rescue medication at school. The action plan also should clearly state when to seek emergency care.
Although they can be organized in a number of ways, many action plans use the "zone system," which is based on the red, yellow, and green colors of a traffic light. This is the same color system used on peak flow meters. Action plans use symptoms, peak flow readings, or both to help you determine the zone your child is in:
The color system makes it easy for kids and parents to quickly figure out which instructions apply to a child's peak flow meter reading. Your child's "personal best" peak flow reading is an important measurement to include on the plan so that you'll have something to compare the new numbers to.
Asthma action plans may also include:
It's important to have all of this information in one place so that you (as well as your child's teachers, relatives, and caregivers) can respond as needed, even in stressful situations.
Your child's action plan will be most effective if you make yourself familiar with it before your child has a flare-up. Follow the advice in it to avoid flare-ups.
Your child should be familiar with the plan, too, and older kids should know which steps they can take themselves and when they should get help.
The action plan should go everywhere your child goes. Keep a copy at home in a well-known spot and give one to the school nurse, teachers, and anyone else who cares for your child. Offer to discuss the plan so they'll be comfortable following it.
Also, revise the plan whenever dosages for your child's medicines change. Review the plan with your doctor at least every 6 months, or more often if symptoms happen more than they used to.
The plan also might need to be updated if your child doesn't seem to need rescue medicines as often. Any time the action plan is changed, give new copies to anyone who has one.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014
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