Asthma action plan – why bother?
Not sure what medicines to take and when? Wouldn’t know what to do if you start having symptoms? Don’t want to end up in hospital with an asthma attack? Having your own written asthma action plan is the best thing you can do to keep well with your asthma.
Stay out of hospital
"We know that if you use a written asthma action plan you’re four times less likely to be admitted to hospital for your asthma," says Asthma UK’s clinical lead. "If you want to stay on top of your asthma make sure you get a written asthma action plan as part of your asthma review. It doesn’t take long to discuss and write up your asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse, and once you have one it can make a real difference."
What exactly is it – and how will it help me?
Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 - Talk to an asthma nurse specialist about the best way to look after your asthma.
A written asthma action plan is a step by step guide to help you stay on top of your asthma. You fill it in with your GP or asthma nurse. Your written asthma action plan is personal – it’s all about you and your asthma. It tells you what to do:
- every day to keep well
- when you start to have symptoms
- if you have an asthma attack
You can use your asthma action plan to:
- remind you what medicines to take
- list the things that make your asthma worse (your triggers)
- check when your next review appointment is due
- write down your GP/asthma nurse’s contact number
- help friends and family understand what to do if you have an asthma attack
What if my asthma changes – won’t the plan go out of date?
Take your written asthma action plan with you to every asthma appointment – including any A&E or consultant visits. If there are any changes to the way you need to look after your asthma ask your GP, asthma nurse or consultant to update your plan. Your asthma action plan should always be reviewed and updated at your routine asthma review appointment. You should have at least one routine asthma review every year.
How do I get started using an action plan?
Download your asthma action plan here and take it along to your GP or asthma nurse so that you can fill it in together. You need to fill it in and discuss it with your GP/asthma nurse for it to be safe and to work properly.
Use it, don’t lose it!
Once you’ve got your asthma action plan keep it somewhere handy at home so you and your family can refer to it quickly. Make a copy of it that you can carry around with you. Save an image of your completed action plan on your phone - it's another way to make sure you can check it whenever and wherever you need to.
What do people with asthma think?
"My written asthma action plan enables me to make a proper judgement about how well I am and – crucially - it has given me much more confidence with my GP," says Vicki Shenton. "I take it to them and say I am at 'X' point on the plan and this is what I need from you."
"I wasn’t given all that much information about my asthma so I found it hard to gauge how serious my symptoms were," says Joel Hammond. "Now my action plan tells me when I need to go to the hospital and when I don’t. I would advise anyone with asthma to get themselves a plan and keep it on them at all times, as well as give a copy to those close to them."
"My written asthma action plan has made feel much more in control of my condition," says Louise Degenhart. "Earlier this year, I had an asthma attack and needed to go to hospital. I found it very helpful being able to show the doctors in A and E my written asthma action plan to quickly update them on my condition. It also encouraged them to really listen to me and take my asthma more seriously."
What else might help, alongside an asthma action plan?
Asthma UK’s complete self-management pack 'Your Asthma' contains an asthma action plan, a peak flow diary, a medicine card and a guide to an asthma review. Find out more and download all these resources here.
To request a printed asthma action plan, or a complete Your Asthma pack, please call 0300 222 5800 and select option 2.
Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri) - Talk to an asthma nurse specialist about the best way to look after your asthma.