Once you’re in the middle of an asthma attack, struggling for breath, the last thing you’ll want to trouble yourself with is trying to remember your doctor’s phone number or figuring out just where you put your rescue medication. Thinking ahead of time and developing a personalized asthma action plan can reduce your stress and provide you with a sense of control over an asthma attack if one develops.
Create Your Own Asthma Attack Action Plan
1. Work With Your Doctor
First, you need to work with your doctor to develop a flowchart of the medications you should take in response to your symptoms.
“Anyone who has asthma should not leave the doctor’s office without a written management plan,” says Robert F. Lemanske, Jr., MD, head of the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology and professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, WI. “They need to feel like they know what is going on with their asthma should something happen, what they should do if they get more symptoms, and when they should call their physician.”
2. Learn The Signs
Make sure your asthma action plan includes what to do for these specific signs of an asthma attack:
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
- Coughing at night or early morning
If you have a hard time identifying asthma attack symptoms–especially as they are happening–learn how to use a peak flow meter, a portable device that measures your ability to push air out of your lungs.
Make a note on your asthma action plan of what your results are when your asthma is under control and what you should do when those results change.
3. Prepare The Right Way
Even when your asthma has been under control for some time, you can still have an asthma attack, which is why you need to prepare by doing the following:
Knowing your triggers. This will help you know if you are going into a situation or entering a time of the year when you are going to be at greater risk of an asthma attack. Some common triggers include cat dander, smoke, seasonal allergies, and respiratory infections.
Sharing your asthma action plan. Tell people who spend time with you, such as co-workers and family members, where you keep your