Asthma is a lifelong condition, which means it can be managed but never cured. If you’re living with asthma then your plan should act as a toolkit to give you answers to everything you ever need. It should help to alleviate some worry if and when your symptoms flare up.
By following your asthma action plan you’ll lower the chances of worsening your condition. Asthma can be debilitating, but having a set plan to follow helps you to have more control over your life and your condition. It should simplify the steps that you need to take and let you safely participate in activities like exercise.
What your asthma plan includes is down to you and the clinician that’s helping you to write it.
Some asthma plans include a type of traffic light system (red, yellow and green). The traffic light system is based on a peak flow test. A peak flow test is used to measure the severity of your asthma. It’s measured by how fast you can blow the air out of your lungs whilst using a peak flow metre.
Just like with asthma itself, peak flow readings can vary from person to person. This is why it’s important to determine your personal best peak flow reading. Your personal best peak flow reading is the highest reading that you can get with your condition. It’s measured by recording your readings for two weeks, twice a day. You’ll then need to write your results in a peak flow chart and share them with your clinician.
On the traffic light system, green means that your asthma has a good level of control. You get a green reading when your peak flow is between 80-100%. In green, asthma shouldn’t have too much of a negative effect on you. You should be able to fully take part in regular activities. When in the green zone you’ll usually just need to take daily preventer medications.
The yellow zone is a peak flow reading between 50-80%. You should proceed with caution and you’ll need to take reliever medication. Your plan will also give you advice on when to call a medical professional if your symptoms worsen.
The red zone is when your personal best peak flow reading is below 50%. This means that you need to seek urgent medical attention. This zone will instruct you to immediately use your reliever medication, and give you advice on what to do next.
Do all asthmatics need an asthma care plan?
Everyone who has asthma can benefit from a care plan. They’re designed to help you manage your condition so that you can get on with your day-to-day life. Care plans are made especially for you and put the focus on your condition and individual circumstances. An asthma action plan should help to reduce the risk of an asthma attack occurring and will help to keep you safe.
In most cases, you’ll create this plan when you’re diagnosed with asthma. The plan will be created by you and your clinician. The plan will regularly be reviewed, and you can take it with you to all future appointments. If you have asthma, but don’t have a plan, speak with a clinician or asthma specialist for further information.
Asthma action plans can help you to have a better understanding of your condition and what triggers your symptoms. It’ll also help to give you a level of control and potentially benefit your health . Taking regular peak flow readings can help you to be aware of the severity of your asthma. Depending on the outcome of your readings you may want to look at what treatments you may need and see what activities you should avoid.
Above all else, an asthma management plan can help to give you confidence. You don’t have to be afraid of what medication to take, how to take it, or worry about your health. The plan will include all of this information for you and you can refer to it whenever you need to.
Keep it somewhere you will see it
Managing your asthma can be a daily task, depending on its severity. If you keep your plan somewhere you can always see it, you’ll never be unsure of the next steps. Having easy access to your plan should help to remove any anxiety about which treatment you should be taking and how often you should be taking it. Keeping it in sight will also serve as a reminder of where you’re currently at with your condition based on your latest peak flow test.
Check it regularly
Keeping up to date with your condition will help you to manage it. Regularly checking your care plan will keep you updated on the treatment and actions that you need to take. It’s important to keep an eye on the traffic light system. If the colour changes then you might need to start taking a different type of asthma treatment and avoid certain activities
Share it with friends and family
Sharing your care plan with friends and family can help them to understand your condition. More importantly, it can help them to keep you safe. If you have an attack whilst they’re around, they’ll know what to do to help you. Asthma can have some debilitating effects, and a care plan is a great way of explaining these effects in a simple way that people who don’t have asthma can understand.
Keeping on top of your asthma medication is important. Doing so can give you the confidence to carry on with your regular plans.
Because of this, you’ll likely benefit from repeat prescriptions for your essential treatment, as well as monitoring your condition to make sure it keeps working for you as well as it could do. Speak with a clinician about how to curate an asthma management and treatment plan that’s best for your life.
Written action plans for asthma: an evidence-based review of the key components. Thorax, 59(2), pp.94–99
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