What is an asthma action plan and why do I need it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 10 million men, women and children in the United States experience an asthma attack each year. More than 1.6 million people have an attack so severe that they end up in a hospital for emergency care. On average, 10 Americans die each day from asthma.

The statistics are staggering. Staggering, because most asthma attacks – and deaths – are preventable.

Asthma is a chronic medical condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed and swollen, making it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with medication and treatment. If your asthma is not controlled, it may lead to a life-threatening attack.

Knowing your triggers – and when and how to take your medications – can help reduce life-threatening asthma attacks. That’s where an Asthma Action Plan is vital.

What is an Asthma Action Plan – and how can it prevent your asthma from escalating to a potentially dangerous outcome?

An asthma action plan helps you and your loved ones proactively manage symptoms and triggers to decrease the risk of an emergency room visit. For those living with asthma, it is an essential part of your healthcare management. According to the CDC, “Everyone with asthma needs his or her own Asthma Action Plan.”

The goals of this personalized plan are to keep your asthma at bay, help you use your medication appropriately, and avoid emergency room visits. How? Well, your Asthma Action Plan is unique to you. It outlines your specific triggers, what medications are needed based on your symptoms, and when you should seek help.

Using a zoned and color coded system, an Asthma Action Plan tells you and those around you how to proceed with your treatment when your symptoms are triggered:

  • Green / Go Zone: Breathing is good, no coughing or wheezing – your action plan will indicate which preventive medicine to take.
  • Yellow / Caution Zone: Suspect first signs of a cold or are exposed to a known trigger, you have a mild wheeze and/or tight chest – your action plan will indicate what quick-relief medicine to add to your regimen.
  • Red / Danger Zone: Medicine is not helping, breathing is hard and fast, nose opens wide, trouble speaking – your action plan will indicate what rescue medications to take, and to call your doctor ASAP.

Because having an Asthma Action Plan is so important, MedicAlert partnered with the experts at Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [AAFA] to develop an electronic Asthma Action Plan as part of the MedicAlert health profile.

MedicAlert’s electronic Asthma Action Plan ensures that in an emergency, first responders have access to your specific treatment protocol. Because the plan is part of your MedicAlert online health profile, it is easily updated if your medications change. You can download or print your Asthma Action Plan at any time. That way, you can carry it with you or share it with family, friends, school personnel, and coaches to make sure everyone knows how to help you manage your asthma – and most importantly, what to do in an emergency.

Here’s an example of the printed MedicAlert Asthma Action Plan. That way, you can carry it with you or share it with family, friends, school personnel, and coaches to make sure everyone knows how to help you manage your asthma – and most importantly, what to do in an emergency.

Your electronic Asthma Action Plan includes:

  • A list of asthma symptoms
  • How to recognize asthma triggers and worsening symptoms
  • Medications to take based on your symptoms
  • What to do in an emergency
  • Guidelines for when to contact your healthcare provider
  • Guidelines for when to go to the emergency room.

The electronic Asthma Action Plan is included in all MedicAlert Advantage or Advantage Plus membership plans. Along with the asthma action plan, you’ll enjoy additional benefits with a MedicAlert membership will give you the peace of mind you need in an emergency. MedicAlert membership benefits include:

  • Emergency Health Record: Store your complete medical history – allergies, medical conditions, medications, implanted devices, immunizations, patient instructions and much more.
  • 24/7 emergency protection: MedicAlert’s 24/7 emergency response team is always on call to relay the critical information in your health record – including your Asthma Action Plan – to first responders, no matter when or where an emergency happens.
  • Emergency contact notification*: In an emergency, MedicAlert will notify your loved ones, so you’ll have their comfort and love by your side.

If you’re the parent of a child with asthma, a MedicAlert ID with an Asthma Action Plan will provide necessary protection for your child. A custom engraved MedicAlert ID alerts others to your child’s condition, while their Asthma Action Plan can be shared with your child’s school personnel, sports teams, daycare or aftercare programs, camp staff and other caregivers to ensure that they understand the triggers, symptoms, and actions to best care for your child.

If you’re already a MedicAlert member, you can access your Asthma Action Plan by logging into your health profile. If you’re not a member, enroll in a MedicAlert membership plan to access the benefits that can save your life or the life of someone you love.

Bottom line – your MedicAlert emergency health profile and electronic Asthma Action Plan help you take control of your asthma, so you can do more and worry less.

MedicAlert is dedicated to providing education and tools for individuals living asthma through our partnership with AAFA. Learn more about the partnership and see how MedicAlert helps those with Asthma.

*Available with Advantage or Advantage Plus protection

Long brown haired woman with asthma holding an inhaler on her hand