Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Why Your Child Needs an Asthma Action Plan

Action Plan

By Karen Gregory, DNP, RRT, AE-C

Managing asthma can be extremely overwhelming. It is important for you to have the tools you need to best control your child’s asthma.

The CDC recommends any person with asthma have an asthma action plan. A written asthma action plan is a helpful tool for successfully managing asthma.

What is asthma management?

Asthma management includes prevention of an asthma attack and early treatment at the first sign of symptoms. The goal is to decrease symptoms, prevent missed school or work days, prevent limitations with increased exercise or sports, and improve quality of life. Another important management goal is to prevent severe attacks requiring oral prednisone, an emergency room visit, or hospital admission.

Preventing asthma attacks is critical because over time uncontrolled asthma can result in loss of lung function or permanent lung damage, known as airway remodeling.

Asthma treatment that is started early helps prevent a worsening asthma attack. The asthma action plan includes a list of medicines to be used daily and medicines to be used when symptoms begin. The plan may also include measures to avoid triggers, information on the impact of other conditions your child may have, and contact information for your health care provider and emergency contact persons.

Three zones

The asthma action plan is divided into three zones based on asthma severity and symptoms or peak flow rates: the green zone, yellow zone, and red zone.

The green zone indicates asthma is controlled and the child should take medications listed on the plan. Green zone is where you want to be!

The yellow zone means asthma symptoms are worsening and it is time to step up medications. You may need to seek emergency care or call your health care provider as well.

The red zone means your child is having increased asthma symptoms that are not responding to albuterol and you need to seek emergency care. It is critical that you know when to seek emergency care.

Written asthma action plans should be easy to understand and should be reviewed with your asthma health care team at each medical visit. Discuss problems or concerns about your child’s asthma at each visit. Asthma education, including proper inhaler technique, should be reviewed at each medical visit too.

Five great reasons to have an asthma action plan

So, to recap, why does your child need an asthma action plan?

  1. It serves as your road map for asthma management.
  2. It helps maintain good asthma control by giving you the information you need to prevent an asthma attack.
  3. It informs your child’s school and other caregivers about your child’s asthma.
  4. It facilitates communication and understanding between you and your health care team.
  5. It hopefully prevents a severe asthma attack.

Achieving and maintaining good asthma control is key to your child having a happy, healthy childhood. An asthma action plan can help you get there.

Karen Gregory is a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care from Oklahoma, where she is an advanced practice nurse, respiratory therapist, and certified asthma educator at the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City. She is also an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
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