What Is An Asthma Action Plan And Why Do I Need It
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 10 million men, women and children in the United States experience an asthma attack each year. More than 1.6 million people have an attack so severe that they end up in a hospital for emergency care. On average, 10 Americans die each day from asthma.
The statistics are staggering. Staggering, because most asthma attacks and deaths – are preventable.
Asthma is a chronic medical condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed and swollen, making it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with medication and treatment.. If your asthma is not controlled, it may lead to a life-threatening attack.
Knowing your triggers – and when and how to take your medications – can help reduce life-threatening asthma attacks. Thats where an Asthma Action Plan is vital.
What is an Asthma Action Plan – and how can it prevent your asthma from escalating to a potentially dangerous outcome?
An asthma action plan helps you and your loved ones proactively manage symptoms and triggers to decrease the risk of an emergency room visit. For those living with asthma, it is an essential part of your healthcare management. According to the CDC, Everyone with asthma needs his or her own Asthma Action Plan.
Using a zoned and color coded system, an Asthma Action Plan tells you and those around you how to proceed with your treatment when your symptoms are triggered:
Your electronic Asthma Action Plan includes:
Cheyannes Story: Mums First Time Experience With Life
Cheyanne tells her story of the near-death experience by asthma of her daughter Ngamihi.
Cheyanne McConnell from Hamilton has two beautiful daughters. Her oldest is Ngamihi Lyndon, who has asthma, and Anahera Lyndon is the younger of the two. Cheyanne is deaf, therefore uses sign language, and Ngamihi helps her as a sign language interpreter. Cheyanne describes Ngamihi as really lovely and very amazing for doing this. She says both her daughters are really sweet girls.
Unfortunately, in early 2015, Cheyanne and her family had a frightening experience with asthma. Ngamihi was in a serious condition and needed to be taken to the hospital. Cheyanne explains, It was very hard for my daughter Ngamihi, she nearly died. I took her straight to the hospital. Im very lucky. I feel shocked that Ngamihi had asthma.
The whole experience was incredibly emotional and traumatising. Ngamihi in hospital made us all cry, she nearly died. She had fallen down, she was wheezing and upset crying. She had a hard cough and dry throat,” says Cheyanne. This was Cheyannes first time in dealing with asthma, as she had never experienced it before and didnt know anything about the condition. To learn more about asthma, Cheyanne got in contact with Asthma Waikato to book an appointment for one-on-one asthma education. Cheyanne says, “I need to learn more about asthma for my daughter Ngamihi. It’s very important”.
What Are The Zones Of An Asthma Action Plan
Asthma action plans have three zones. The zones correspond to the colors of a traffic light: green, yellow, red .2 If you use a peak flow meter, your action plan will be based on your personal best peak expiratory flow . You can also monitor based on symptoms. In this case, your action plan will list the signs and symptoms of worsening asthma.
It is not necessary to go to the emergency department every time your symptoms get worse. Your action plan can help you decide what kind of medical care you need.
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Taking Medications As Prescribed
Developing an effective medication plan to control a child’s asthma can take time and trial and error. Different drugs work more or less effectively for different kinds of asthma, and some drug combinations work well for some children but not for others.
There are two main categories of asthma medications: quick-relief medications and long-term preventive drugs . Asthma drugs treat both symptoms and causes, so they effectively control asthma for nearly every child. Over-the-counter drugs, home remedies, and herbal combinations are not substitutes for prescription asthma medication because they cannot reverse airway obstruction and they do not address the cause of many asthma flares. As a result, asthma is not controlled by these nonprescription drugs, and it may even become worse with their usage.
Alistair’s Story: Ironman & Asthmatic
Alistair is a chronic asthmatic, but hes also an Ironman. Hes had a few health challenges but hes learned ways to manage his condition so he can compete at a high level in a triathlons.
“My childhood was punctuated with time in and out of hospital, although my parents were proactive in sourcing the best treatments available, including my very own nebuliser,” he says.”My asthma is at the worst end of the scale: its severe, especially if I dont do my best to control it. Many things cause my asthma and even when its managed well, there are certain triggers that all the control in the world wont stop an attack from coming on.
In late 1999 I was introduced to triathlons. It was not long before I was hooked and in 2005 I made the NZ Age Group Team for the Triathlon. In 2006 I took time out from sport. By 2009 I was struggling to do anything in the way of activity that lasted longer than 20 to 30 minutes, without the need for my reliever inhaler. After having a lot of time off I was 25 kg heavier and much older. I realised then my triathlon training had helped me take control of my asthma in a way no other sport had ever done. I knew I had to get back into it, which meant I had to build up my training slowly and steadily.
Given how severe my asthma is, its crucial I manage myself well. Additionally, the sport I do has me actively engaging with asthma triggers on a daily basis. The key stages to my successful management have been:
Read more stories
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How Do I Use My Child’s Asthma Action Plan
Asthma action plans are designed to be simple to read and user-friendly. Most utilize a color-coded system that is divided into three zones, just like a traffic light, with green, yellow, and red.
The green zone is known as the safety zone and is the best zone for your child to be. When your child is in the green zone, they feel good and have no asthma symptoms. It is crucial that your child continues to take their control medications even while in the green zone, as this will help to prevent a flare-up of their symptoms.
The yellow zone is known as the caution zone and means that your child is experiencing symptoms. The yellow zone of your childs asthma action plan explains how to recognize symptoms that indicate your childs asthma is becoming worse. It will also state which medications your child should use to bring their asthma back under control. During the yellow zone, you should encourage your child to slow down and follow the steps in their action plan.
The red zone is known as the danger zone and means that your childs asthma symptoms are severe. Your asthma action plan provides advice about what to do when your childs flare-up is severe. It is crucial that you follow all of the steps and seek emergency medical treatment if their symptoms do not get better.
If your child is old enough to read and understand, they should also be encouraged to learn about their plan and how to use it.
Why It Is Done
You and your doctor will work together to create an asthma action plan. Your action plan tells you what medicine you need to take every day and what to do if you notice a change in your asthma symptoms and/or PEF. This helps you make quick decisions about treatment so that you can avoid more serious attacks and get better.
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What To Expect After Treatment
If you are in the green zone, keep taking daily controller medicine if you have it. You do not need quick-relief treatment.
If your symptoms are mild or moderate , treat them at home using the medicines specified in your asthma action plan. You can expect some relief of your asthma symptoms. Seek medical help if the symptoms do not go away soon after you take the prescribed medicine or if the symptoms become worse.
If your symptoms are severe , seek medical help immediately. While you are seeking emergency help, follow your action plan and take your medicines as directed. You may need emergency room treatment or admission to the hospital. After a severe asthma attack, you may need a short treatment using corticosteroids by mouth to bring your symptoms under control.
Which Medications To Take And When To Take Them
Whether you suffer from asthma personally or you are caring for someone else who does , it is important that you know the proper response when an attack occurs. A good plan lists all the medications prescribed by your doctor, what they do, and when to take them. When the time comes for medication, you shouldnt have any questions about how to respond.
What If My Health Care Provider Did Not Give Me An Aaa
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that providers give their patients an asthma action plan.2 Action plans are especially important for people with moderate or severe asthma or poorly controlled asthma, and people who have had a severe asthma attack. Unfortunately, this is an area where many providers do not follow the guidelines.3 One estimate is that only about one-third of people with asthma have written asthma action plans.4
If your provider does not bring up an asthma action plan, you should feel comfortable asking for one. You can bring in a blank action plan and work with your provider to fill it in. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a blank asthma action plan available online.
Is There An App For That
There are variety of mobile apps available for people with asthma. These can be a useful way to learn about and take control of your asthma, eg, they can help you keep track of your symptoms, triggers, peak flow readings and medication. You can also create an asthma action plan together with your doctor or nurse. The Health Navigator app library team has reviewed some asthma apps that you may like to consider. Read more about asthma apps.
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Having A Written Asthma Action Plan Can Help You To:
- Reduce your chance of needing to urgently visit your doctor or the hospital
- Improve your lung function
- Reduce the number of days off work or school which are taken because of asthma
You can also phone our Asthma Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 and we can arrange for you to speak to one of our asthma specialist nurses. The nurse will be able to advise you as you fill out an Asthma Action Plan for you or your child.
Single Inhaler Ics/laba Combination As A Reliever And Single Inhaler Ics/laba Combination As A Reliever And A Controller
4. What is the efficacy of using a single inhaler ICS/LABA combination as a reliever compared with a FABA as a reliever as part of a self-management plan in children and adults experiencing an acute loss of asthma control?
5. What is the efficacy of using a single inhaler of BUD/FORM as a reliever and a controller as part of a self-management plan for individuals 12 years of age and over, compared with the following:
the usual dose of controller with a FABA as a reliever?
âguideline best practiceâ with a FABA as a reliever?
In 2003, Canadian Asthma Consensus Guidelines broadened the recommended class of reliever medication from short-acting bronchodilator to fast-acting bronchodilator . While one LABA is also a FABA, the use of FORM alone as a reliever in asthma is contra-indicated because of concerns that LABAs increase the risk of asthma-related deaths. Whether concomitant use of an ICS mitigates that risk is the subject of ongoing research. As such, the role of ICS/LABA combination products as reliever and controller medication merits review.
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When To Seek Emergency Care
If a persons symptoms align with those that their action plan lists in the red zone, they should seek emergency care.
Their action plan should include phone numbers for their local emergency department, their doctor, and rapid transportation. It should also include their emergency contacts.
Common asthma symptoms indicating a problem include:
- symptoms while trying to sleep
- symptoms that occur with increased activity level, such as exercising, working, or playing
- symptoms during waking hours, such as coughing, wheezing, or chest tightness
What Does An Asthma Action Plan Include
First things first: what exactly is an asthma action plan? In a nutshell, it is a plan written by you and your doctor with the goal of reducing asthma attacks and flare-ups, as well as recognizing your own health patterns. Although your plan is not a cure for asthma, it is a helpful tool for tracking important information. When properly done, it can even reduce visits to the doctor.
Your asthma action plan should log specific data that will help you better understand your own condition and reactions. Generally speaking, a plan includes the following things.
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Questions About Your Action Plan
Want to know more about using an action plan? Chat to one of our repiratory nurse specialists on 0300 222 5800 or WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728
Next review due May 2023
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How To Get An Asthma Action Plan
If youre not using an asthma action plan yet, its easy to get started:
You can also get an asthma action plan in Welsh.
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At The Emergency Department
If you have to go to the emergency department of a hospital, doctors and healthcare professionals will treat you by:
- Giving you oral or intravenous corticosteroids
- Giving you inhaled reliever medication and oxygen
- Assess your progress with spirometry, peak flow monitoring and oximetry
Remember, its better to be safe than sorry. To delay getting medical help when youre in the red zone can mean unnecessary suffering, even death. Always follow your Asthma Action Plan and your doctors advice about how best to manage your asthma.
When To Go Back To Your Doctor
- Keep an eye on your symptoms. If you are getting wheezy more than 2 times a week, it may mean your asthma is not well controlled. See your doctor for a check-up.
- If you have symptoms of hay fever , such as nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes, talk to your doctor about medicine to treat these symptoms, such as antihistamines or nasal steroid sprays. Treating hay fever can improve your asthma symptoms.
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What Should Be Included In An Asthma Action Plan
Each childs wheezing triggers and symptoms are different and their asthma action plan should reflect this. Most asthma plans should include the following standard details
What your childs medications are and their treatment schedule
An emergency contact and your childs healthcare provider
What your childs triggers are
How to record peak flow readings and use the results
What the early symptoms of flare-ups are and how they can be managed
What to do if your childs flare-up progresses
When to seek emergency care
Identifying And Controlling Asthma Triggers
Children with asthma have different sets of triggers. Triggers are the factors that irritate the airways and cause asthma symptoms. Triggers can change seasonally and as a child grows older. Some common triggers are cigarette smoke, allergens like dust, dust mites, and pet dander, viral infections, irritants like strong perfumes, exercise — which is often the most common asthma trigger — breathing cold air, and weather changes.
Identifying triggers and symptoms can take time. Keep a record of when symptoms happen and how long they last.
Once you spot patterns, you can avoid some of the triggers. Talk with your doctor about starting environmental control measures that will limit those allergens and irritants. Remember that allergies develop over time with continued exposure to allergens, so a child’s asthma triggers may change.
Others who provide care for your child, such as babysitters, day care providers, or teachers, must be informed about your child’s asthma treatment plan. Many schools have programs for their staff to learn about asthma and recognize severe symptoms.
Here are some suggested environmental control measures for different allergens and irritants:
To control dust mites:
To control pollens and molds:
To control irritants:
- Do not smoke at home, even when a child is not present.
- Do not burn wood fires in fireplaces or wood stoves.
- Avoid strong odors from paint, perfume, hair spray, disinfectants, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and glues.
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