If you have had moderate to severe asthma for very long, there's a good chance you also have an Asthma Action Plan. But how do you know it's still the right plan for you -- and that it is doing its job?
What is an Asthma Action Plan?
An Asthma Action Plan is a written one or two-page outline you develop with the help of your doctor to guide your asthma control and management. This plan contains specific steps that can help you act on asthma problems quickly, before they spiral out of control. Essentially, the action plan helps you recognize problems with asthma control.
Some Questions to Ask Yourself
One of the best ways to know if your Asthma Action Plan is doing its job is to ask yourself the following questions.
1. Are you having the symptoms of slipping asthma control, such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or cough? If you are, how often is this happening? If you are having symptoms or feeling the need to use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week, then your asthma is not well controlled.
2. Are you waking up at night frequently? If asthma symptoms are waking you up at night, especially coughing, chances are asthma control is slipping.
3. Are your peak flow measurements within your healthy range, as noted on your Asthma Action Plan? Peak flow readings are usually a good measure of how well controlled your asthma is. If yours are not where they should be, asthma control is also not where it should be. Read more about peak flow meters here.
4. Are asthma symptoms getting in the way of living life on a regular basis? When asthma is well controlled, it should not interfere with sleep, activities you like to do, working, school, exercise or anything else. If it is affecting your quality of life, though, then control is not optimal.
5. Have you had to make an unplanned visit to urgent care, the emergency room or your doctor's office because of an asthma attack? If so, your asthma is definitely not well controlled!
6. How well do you think you are feeling? Does it feel like your asthma is under control? Are you satisfied with your asthma treatment plan? We each know our own bodies best and it's not unusual for an individual to just have a gut feeling something isn't right, even in the absense of specific evidence.
So What If My Plan Isn't Doing the Job?
If after examining your answers to the questions above, you start to realize your asthma is not really as well controlled as you would like, then chances are your Asthma Action Plan is no longer getting the job done.
That means it's time to schedule a phone conversation or office visit with your physician to discuss what changes may need to be made in your action plan. As the primary stakeholder in this discussion, you need to play an active role in verbalizing what you see as the issues and what kind of solutions you are looking for.
Remember, it's not unusual that an action plan would need to be updated from time to time. Our bodies are constantly changing, the environment changes, treatments change. So, stay on top of things, so that you can lead the best quality of healthy life possible!
Published On: June 18, 2014