As the parent of a child with asthma, you more than likely want to utilize every tool possible to help them maintain it. One of the best ways to empower your child and help them gain control of their asthma is to create an asthma attack action plan. What exactly is an asthma action plan, and how can parents help their children use it efficiently?
What is an Asthma Attack Action Plan?
An asthma action plan is a written plan created by you, with the help of your child’s doctor. It acts as the catch-all for asthma-related news, symptoms, triggers, test results, changes, medication information, etc. With the help of this important information, the action plan (again, written by you and your doctor) specifies how to respond in the event of an asthma attack.
Of course, some children experience mostly minor flare-ups, while others suffer from severe and dangerous attacks. In either case, it is important to understand what to do, which medication to reach for, and who to contact.
An asthma action plan is important for every asthmatic, but particularly for children. Copies can be provided for teachers, school nurses, childcare providers, coaches, etc. so that no matter who the authority is, the proper course of action is always taken. Additionally, as tempting as it can be to handle everything as the parent, the child must know how to respond in the event of an emergency. You may not be around when an attack occurs, so your child needs to know what to do.
Understanding the “Zones”
Although formats vary, many childhood asthma action plans take the approach of “zones.” Even if your child’s plan does not look exactly like this, it is helpful to keep these zones in mind. Imagine a stoplight. The three colors are your child’s zones.
Your child is in the green zone when they feel good. A lack of symptoms or exposure to triggers indicates that your child is in this zone. Your plan should indicate how to care for your child in this zone, or rather, how to keep them from dipping into yellow or red.
Likewise, the yellow zone indicates that your child needs some attention. Perhaps they are exhibiting minor symptoms without falling into a full-blown attack. Learn to tell when your child is in the yellow zone so that you can teach them to respond before they reach red.
The red zone says, “Stop!” If your child cannot catch a breath, or their flare-up is chronic and severe, it is vital that whoever is with them knows how to respond. The asthma action plan should list which medication to take as well as provide a list of emergency contacts.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Use Their Plan
Even if your child is young, it is never too early to begin teaching them about their asthma. The more they know about it, the better equipped they are to handle flare-ups. Encourage your child to get involved with their asthma action plan by taking the following steps.
- Use an at-home spirometer with games, then allow them to log their own information.
- Regularly ask them to rate their “zone,” then allow them to think about what they may have done that day that would place them in that zone.
- Teach them about the respiratory system, particularly what theirs is doing when they suffer from flare-ups.
- Allow them to communicate with their doctor and ask their own questions, rather than doing all of it yourself.