Give Your Asthma Action Plan a Tune Up!
An asthma action plan is an asthmatics best friend. It is an essential tool that every asthmatic should have, no matter how mild or severe your asthma is. An asthma action plan is a plan that you set up with your doctor. Your daily asthma medications are written down, as well as places to record your peak flow zones if that is something you are keeping track of.
The action plan is generally set up like a traffic light, with red, yellow, and green zones. Here is a brief overview of the different asthma action plan zones.
Asthma action plan zones
This is where your daily maintenance medications are written down. The green zone is the place you are when your asthma is under control and you aren't experiencing a flare-up. You are able to do all of your regular daily activities without any difficulty.
If you are keeping track of your peak flows, here is where you would mark down your personal best number and whatever is 80% or higher of that personal best peak flow measurement will fall into the green zone.
The yellow zone is when your asthma is starting to act up. It might be keeping you up at night or you are feeling more breathless and wheezy than normal. In addition to your regular asthma medications, the yellow zone will have additional medications listed (such as your rescue inhaler or nebulizer or even starting oral steroids). While you are still able to do most of your regular daily activities, it isn't without difficulty.
The yellow zone is when it’s time to slow down and take it easy to hopefully prevent your asthma from flaring more. Generally your doctor will have specific instructions as to when to call his/her office as well. Peak flow measurements in this zone are between 50-79% of your personal best.
Red means STOP. Stop and seek medical advice. This zone means your asthma is severely flaring and even talking can be difficult. If your rescue medications aren't helping by this time, seeking medical attention or calling 911 may be immediately necessary. Peak flows are 50% or less.
Time for an asthma action plan tune-up!
Once a year, when you have an annual check-up with your doctor (whether it be your primary, Pulmonologist or asthma specialist) take your action plan with you for a review. Whichever doctor is the one who you have managing your asthma and gave you the initial action plan should be the one to help give it a tune-up.
Go over it in detail and make any adjustments when it comes to medications etc. Asthma is an episodic disease and it can change over time, so your action plan won’t necessarily always stay the same either. If you have more than one doctor, be sure to take a copy to each doctor so they can have it on file as well. I also keep a photo of it saved to my phone for quick access if I am out and about.
Always pay attention to your asthma action plan zones
Once you have an asthma action plan you will have a vital tool that will be there whenever you need it. Even people who aren't new to asthma can still find it helpful. I know when my asthma is flaring up badly, I still refer to my action plan because when you can’t breathe, panic and fear can set in. Becoming familiar with your action plan takes the guesswork out of what to do when your asthma is acting up and when to seek medical advice.
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