Lt Col Reynolds
A detailed asthma action plan is a crucial element to controlling your child's asthma. Dr. Flemings, can you tell parents about developing an asthma action plan for their child?
Of course, Dr. Reynolds. You can work with your child's healthcare provider to develop this plan, including step-by-step instructions for preventing and handling asthma attacks. A written plan can give you and your child the confidence to treat asthma signs and symptoms promptly.
Every child's asthma action plan is unique, but there are some common goals that will help you develop your plan.
First, the plan should help you manage your child's medications. Make a list of your child's asthma medications and how they are to be taken. Include daily control medicines and as-needed "rescue" medications. Make sure you know what medications you have on hand, where they are, how to use them, and their expiration dates.
Your child's action plan should also address the regular monitoring of their breathing, using a peak flow meter. If your child's peak flow rate drops, the action plan should include specific steps in terms of adjusting their medication.
An action plan should also help you and your child recognize an asthma attack. When you're aware of the warning signs, such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, you can take prompt action at the first sign of an attack. Include in your action plan instructions for using quick-relief medications and other drugs meant for more serious attacks.
Your child's action plan should also help you determine when it's necessary to seek emergency care during an asthma attack. Some attacks can't be managed at home. Use the action plan to recognize the signs of rapidly worsening asthma, such as your child's lips and nails turning blue or if your child has difficulty speaking.
The action plan should also provide an organized list of important contact information. Your provider's contact information, emergency phone numbers, and the location of the nearest emergency room should be included.
Once you, your child, and your provider have developed a detailed action plan, be sure to keep the plan handy. Make sure your child and any caregivers, including grandparents and babysitters, can find the plan easily. Give a copy of the plan to the school nurse and your child's teachers and coaches. Keep another copy in your wallet or purse, in case an asthma attack occurs away from home.
Finally, be sure to stay in touch with your child's provider. Even with the best action plan, you may still have questions about handling an asthma attack. If in doubt, or if you're simply concerned about your child's signs and symptoms, call your child's provider. Remember, acting early can help prevent a serious attack.