Asthma Action Plans - What Are They & Why Are They So Important?

Asthma Action Plans - What Are They & Why Are They So Important?

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As a written document created to help you manage your asthma, what are the benefits of having an asthma action plan? How can these reduce hospital visits?

Do you, or does someone close to you suffer with asthma? 

If so, an asthma action plan could prove more than beneficial.

With 5.4 million people living with asthma in the UK, this means that one in five households in the UK could be facing a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. What’s even more troublesome is that two thirds of these can be prevented.

Research has shown that when actively managed, asthma symptoms can be improved and attacks are less frequent. By taking positive steps, like writing your own asthma action plan can consistently help you to manage your condition.

An asthma action plan is an individual plan created by you and your doctor to help you manage your asthma, how to stay healthy, and what to do when you require help. Based on symptoms and/or peak expiratory flow (PEF) measurements as well as being tailored to the person’s asthma condition. 

The ultimate goal of an asthma action plan is to reduce visits to the emergency department and to prevent any potential flare-ups of your condition.

Why do you need an Asthma Action Plan?

Having and maintaining an action plan for your asthma is the best way to help you stay firmly on top of your symptoms when they first appear.

This means that there’s less chance for asthma to invade and upset your daily routine. 

Including and detailing the crucial information you need in order to fully manage your condition as a whole, an asthma action plan will contain details such as:

  • Ways in which you manage your symptoms
  • How you can recognise if your symptoms are worsening, and
  • Clear and defined steps to take if an asthma emergency arises

Want to make your own asthma action plan? 

Download a template from Asthma UK without hesitation!

For your child’s personal action plan needs, download the child friendly version here.

Creating your OWN Asthma Action Plan

So, you’ve understood the need for such an action plan and need to set about putting it all down on paper. 

Based on the severity of symptoms, most action plans will follow the same kind of format, in that they will contain a colour coded scale, similar to that of a traffic light system:

Green Zone = Go

Yellow Zone = Caution

Red Zone = Danger

So, what exactly do you need to include?


From various types of inhalers (and the relevant spacers) to tablets, the majority of people living with asthma will take regular and controlled medication as part of their daily management. 

Many asthma sufferers will also need to carry medication with them in the event of an attack. 

Your action plan will go into detail regarding the types of medications to use in the daily control of these symptoms. This plan will also document them in such a way that if symptoms become severe or life-threatening, quick action will be taken.

Emergency plan and contact details

If you struggle with asthma, you’ll need to have contact details for your GP, asthma nurse, pharmacist and any other healthcare professionals

From support helplines and groups to other people who help you to manage this debilitating condition, your action plan will contain these emergency contact numbers as well as address details and any other information required.

In the event of an asthma emergency, this action plan will also give simple and clear instructions of how to handle the situation.

Known triggers

The fundamentals of why people struggle with asthma and their various causes are not completely understood. However, what is known is that there are a wide variety of differing triggers that can lead to an asthma attack.

It’s also important to learn that not everyone’s triggers will necessarily be the same. 

If you struggle with asthma, you may find there are many different trigger points that could set off an attack for you and you could be affected by one or any number of these. Reducing exposure to these triggers is important for asthma management.

 They can include:

  • Outdoor allergens, such as grass and tree pollen
  • Indoor allergens, from mould to pet dander and dust mites
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Irritants in the air, such as smoke, strong fragrances and chemicals
  • Respiratory condition, such as the cold of flu
  • Stress
  • Exercise (also known as exercise-induced asthma)
  • The weather, from exceptionally cold air to extremely dry, humid or windy weather)

 Being aware of and understanding your own personal triggers will ensure that you are better able to manage these. Writing them down in your own action plan will help significantly. 

Asthma Review Information

You should have at least one routine asthma review every year and a structured review can improve clinical outcomes for people with asthma.

Just a third of people with asthma have an annual asthma review with inhaler check and an asthma action plan.

There should be a section within your asthma plan which states the necessary information surrounding this. This section should contain a checklist of what you will bring to the review:

  • Your action plan to see if it needs updating. 
  • Any inhalers and spacers you have, to check that you are using them correctly and in the best way. 
  • Any questions about your asthma and how to cope with it. 
  • Next asthma review date

What can an asthma action plan help with?

Helps you to keep on top of your asthma symptoms

Your written asthma action plan will help you to manage your asthma symptoms, with research highlighting that being in possession of an effective asthma management strategy – including an action plan – can help tremendously in other ways. 

  • You’re less likely to have symptoms, and to need time off work or school. 
  • Overall, it can improve your quality of life.
  •  In other words, having a written asthma action plan is a very simple way to help prevent asthma from getting in the way of your daily life, so you can stay symptom-free and do more of the things you want to do.

In the Asthma UK 2016-17 report, it was noted that just 42% of people with asthma have an asthma action plan, even though you are 4 times more likely to end up in hospital without one. 

Furthermore, the NHS spends around 1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma. Even more reason to write a personal asthma action plan.

Stay out of hospital

According to the British Lung Foundation, asthma accounts for 60,000 hospital admissions and 200,000 bed days a year. 

According to the Asthma UK’s Head of Helpline, “We know that if you use a written asthma action plan you’re four times less likely to be admitted to hospital for your asthma, if you want to stay on top of your asthma, make sure you get an action plan as part of your asthma review. It doesn’t take long to discuss and write up an asthma action plan with your GP or asthma nurse, and once you have one it can make a real difference.”

What should you do with your asthma action plan?

Write your plan down and make sure to keep it in a visible place. From a pdf to a single folded Z-card, you can keep your plan in any number of formats. You can even stick a copy of this on the fridge or take a photo of it and keep it on your phone.

Whichever method works for you, make sure to use it.

If this action plan is for a close friend of family member, make sure the relevant health care professional or carer also has a copy. If you have written a plan for your child, make sure you give a copy of this to the relevant school or childcare service.

Once your asthma action plan is complete, you’ll use this to monitor your condition on a  day-to-day basis. When symptoms raise their obstructive heads, you can use this plan to be proactive in any necessary treatment.

In the event of any kind of asthma attack, having and knowing your action plan inside out will mean that you are able to take control of the situation in a better way and are likely to feel less panicky, helping to keep the situation as calm as possible.