What's an Asthma Action Plan?

An asthma action plan (or management plan) is a written plan that you create with your child's doctor to help control your child's asthma.

The goal of an asthma action plan is to reduce or prevent flare-ups and emergency department visits. Following a written asthma action plan can help your child do normal everyday activities without having asthma symptoms.

Asthma Action Plan button

What's in the Asthma Action Plan?

Each person's asthma is different, so each action plan will be too. However, each plan should cover:

  • what medicines to take and when (for students, this can include permission to take medicine at school)
  • a list of possible triggers
  • early symptoms of flare-ups and what to do if they happen
  • know how to manage a full-blown flare-up
  • when to get emergency care

If your child uses a peak flow meter, add the "personal best" reading to the plan so that you'll have something to compare the new readings to.

How Do I Read the Plan?

Many action plans use a color-coded system to help parents understand how to care for their child's asthma. The "zone system," which is commonly used, is based on the red, yellow, and green colors of a traffic light. Action plans use symptoms, peak flow readings, or both to help you see what "zone" your child is in:

  • The green zone, or safety zone, explains how to manage asthma when your child is feeling good.
  • The yellow zone, or caution zone, explains how to look for signs that asthma is getting worse. It also explains which medicines to add to bring your child's asthma back under control.
  • The red zone, or danger zone, explains what to do when a flare-up is severe.

Following the advice in the asthma action plan will help prevent flare-ups. So become familiar with the plan right away, and talk to the doctor if you have any questions.

Your child should learn about the plan too, and older kids should know which steps they can take themselves and when they should get help.

What Else Should I Know?

The action plan should go everywhere your child goes. Keep a copy at home in a well-known spot, and give one to the school nurse, teachers, and anyone else who cares for your child. Explain the plan to them so they'll be comfortable following it.

Review the plan with your doctor at least every 6 months to keep it current. Any time something changes — if your child's medicine dose changes, for example — update the plan and give new copies to all caregivers and teachers.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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