Not sure what medicines to take and when or what to do if you start having symptoms? There's good evidence to show that a written asthma action plan is the best thing you can do to keep well with your asthma.
Stay out of hospital
Nobody wants to end up in hospital with an asthma attack. The good news is that if you use an asthma action plan you're four times less likely to need a stay in hospital for your asthma. "If you want to stay on top of your asthma make sure you get a written asthma action plan at your next asthma review," says Sonia Munde, our Head of Helpline. "It doesn't take long to discuss and write up with your GP or asthma nurse, and once you have one it can make a real difference."
What exactly is a written asthma action plan?
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 and then update it at each asthma review. Your written asthma action plan is personal to you and 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 and/or asthma nurses 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What if my asthma changes won't the plan go out of date?
Your asthma action plan should be reviewed and updated at least once a year at your asthma review appointment (every six months for children). You need to remember to take it with you to every asthma appointment - including any A&E or consultant visits - so that if there are any changes to the way you need to look after your asthma your GP, asthma nurse or consultant can update the information in your plan.
How do I get started using an asthma action plan?
You can get started straight away by downloading our asthma action plan. If you want an asthma action plan for a child download our award-winning My Asthma plan. You need to fill it in with your GP or asthma nurse.
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 - on the fridge or noticeboard, for example. Make a copy of it to carry around or keep in the car. Make copies of it to give to anyone who might like look after your child when you're not there - a childminder, nursery or school, for instance. And save an image of it on your phone. That way you can check it whenever and wherever you need to.
What do people with asthma say about it?
"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 the appointment 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 me 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&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 other resources help, alongside an asthma action plan?
Our complete self-management pack 'Your Asthma' contains an asthma action plan, a peak flow diary, an 'Asthma and me' booklet, 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.
Last updated August 2015