Q: “My son’s school requested I submit an Asthma Action Plan. Where can I get one to bring to my doctor and what should be included in the plan?”
Martha White, MD: An Asthma Action Plan is a document that helps patients and caregivers manage asthma. Many schools are now requiring them, especially as more students start to carry and self-administer asthma medications at school. (All 50 states protect students’ rights to carry prescribed bronchodilator inhalers at school.)
The next step is to work with your health care team to develop the Asthma Action Plan based on your individual needs. Keep a copy of the plan for yourself and follow its directions for recognizing, treating and preventing asthma symptoms. Make sure you understand all of the information in the plan.
It should include:
Medication names, dosages, schedule, expected results and possible side effects.
Asthma symptoms, and what to do when symptoms occur, as they may be early warning signs or part of an asthma flare.
Allergens, irritants, illnesses or activities known to set off your child’s asthma symptoms.
How to recognize worsening asthma and know when to add or adjust medication dosages as a preventive measure based on environmental exposures or season allergies, for example, or when you are fighting a viral infection, experience a drop in your peak flow rate, or have an increase in asthma symptoms).
When to call the doctor, seek help at an emergency room, or call 911.
How and when to use other asthma management tools, such as a nebulizer and a peak flow meter, and adjust medications accordingly.
Monitor your child’s Asthma Action Plan to keep asthma under control on a daily basis, not just in an emergency. Review the plan regularly with your health care team and update it when necessary, as a child’s pattern of asthma will change as he or she grows.
Make sure you are complying with all of your school’s administrative requirements regarding your child’s asthma and care plan.
Martha White, MD, FACAAI, is a board-certified allergist at the Institute of Asthma and Allergy in Wheaton, Md., a member of Allergy & Asthma Network’s Board of Directors, and a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
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