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LIVING with Asthma – Action Plan

Ashley Gudgel, Executive Director – BreatheAmerica Albuquerque

LIVING with Asthma

  • Asthma is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult for millions of young and old Americans.
  • Asthma is more common in women than men.
  • 50% of women with asthma have experienced an asthma attack in the past year
  • Women suffer from asthma attacks more often than men

If you have been diagnosed with asthma, it is important that you and your provider develop an asthma action plan specific to you.  Your asthma action plan should help you track your asthma symptoms, help you know when to take your medications, and what to do in case of an asthma emergency.  An asthma action plan is a tool kit that helps you take control over your asthma, helping you to achieve a healthier life.

Your action plan should include:

  • Your name
  • Emergency contact information
  • Contact information for your healthcare provider
  • The severity classification of your asthma
  • A list of triggers that may cause an asthma attack

The three zones (green, yellow and red) of an asthma plan are much like a traffic light.  Green is the zone you want to achieve on a daily basis, meaning no asthma symptoms and you feel healthy.  Continue to take any prescribed long-term control medicine(s).  The yellow zone means caution, you are symptomatic, so slow down and follow your prescribed quick-relief plan, rescue medication if prescribed, keeping your asthma symptoms from getting worse.  The red zone means you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms or a flare-up, and need to get immediate medical attention if your symptoms aren’t improving.  This portion of your plan should include emergency phone numbers and contact information.

Some action plans are based on your best peak flow rate which is measured with a peak flow meter (a breathing test that measures your lung capacity).  Another way would be to keep a symptom diary, including daytime symptoms such as cough or wheezing, problems with activity level, and nighttime symptoms.

Your asthma action plan should include medication and dosing you should use when you are having asthma symptoms.  The medication, dose, and frequency may change depended on the asthma zone you are experiencing.  Often, you may have a long-term control medicine and a quick-relief medicine prescribed.  Your asthma plan insures you know how, when, and why you utilize your prescribed medications.

If you have a plan, you know what to do, and when to do it, to help control your asthma.  Hopefully, with a plan in place, living with asthma won’t be so scary.