Nearly 1 in 13 Americans live with asthma. Whether your symptoms are mild, moderate, or persistent -- or whether your child wheezes daily, weekly, or only occasionally while playing sports -- an asthma action plan can help you all breathe easier.
What Is an Asthma Action Plan?
Asthma actions plans are like how-tos for lung health. These plans, developed by you and your doctor, clarify what actions to take, and when to take them, based on how you or your child might be feeling at any given time. They describe daily medications, detailing exactly how much you should use, when you should use them, and what symptoms to use them for. Your action plan should also say what to do if medications aren't working as expected, and it should make it clear when to call your doctor or 911.
If you or your child are feeling well and take no medication at the moment, that's great! An action plan is still extremely useful. It will list what to do if there's a sudden increase in symptoms. It will also remind you and others of triggers and how to avoid them.
How Does an Action Plan Help?
One of the most critical functions of an asthma management plan is to help important people in your life take care of you or your child. For a child, that care might be given urgently by a teacher, sports coach, or daycare attendant when something goes wrong. In that case, they would look at the action plan. On a normal day, friends or relatives watching your child at home will need to know what medications to give. For an adult, the plans are useful for coworkers, friends, and travel companions who might be called upon to respond during an attack, or who simply should understand the medications you take. Lastly, if paramedics or emergency-room staff are trying to take care of you or your child, the action plan provides an invaluable, accurate at-a-glance medical history.
If you're living with asthma, even if your symptoms are very mild, please see your doctor, develop an asthma action plan, and provide the important people in your life, and your child's life, with copies. When used as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- along with accessible, current medications -- asthma management plans guide you or your friends, teachers, coworkers, and other caregivers in how to help you achieve long-term control of your asthma so that you can live healthier and happier, and everyone can breathe easier.