What is an Asthma Action Plan?

After being diagnosed with asthma, you and your doctor will draw up your personal plan of treatment, called an Asthma Action Plan. (Click here to download a sample form.)

This written document should spell out how to treat your asthma daily, what to do when symptoms get worse, and how to handle situations such as exercise or when you have a cold or virus. Your Asthma Action Plan will change as your asthma improves or worsens. Review the plan with your doctor at every appointment, including follow-up visits when your asthma is under control.

As you are developing your plan with your health care team, go over every detail until you feel comfortable with it. Ask questions. Talk about your concerns. Be sure you understand the following information:

1. What medicines you should take, especially:

  • What each is called

  • Why you need it

  • How much to take

  • When to take it

  • How to use the inhaler or nebulizer device

  • How soon to expect results

  • Potential side effects

2. What allergens and irritants set off your asthma symptoms and how to reduce or eliminate contact with them; how to handle colds and exercise

3. How to monitor your asthma by tracking symptoms or peak flow readings

4. How to recognize and handle worsening asthma, including:

  • What signs to watch for

  • How to adjust medicines in response

  • When to seek emergency care from your doctor or the emergency room (ER)

  • What numbers to call in an emergency