About Your Child's Asthma Action Plan
It's important to share your child's Asthma Action Plan with caregivers, family members, their teachers, and other school staff. If your child doesn't have a plan or it's not up to date, talk with their healthcare provider as soon as possible. Your child’s Asthma Action Plan should be updated at each visit with their healthcare provider, or at least every year.
What's an Asthma Action Plan?
This plan describes how to manage your child’s asthma. It includes information about your child's symptoms and medicines. It also includes instructions about managing your child’s symptoms and when to call their healthcare provider. During each visit with your child’s healthcare provider, you should review and update your child’s Asthma Action Plan. Or update the plan at least once a year.
Your child’s Asthma Action Plan should include the following.
Include instructions about when your child should take medicines. This will be based on your child’s symptoms or peak flow readings. It may also be based on specific directions from your child’s healthcare provider. Talk with your child’s provider to be sure you and your child know how to use all of the medicines correctly. These medicines include:
Long-term control (maintenance) medicine. These medicines work to reduce airway swelling and inflammation. They can also help relax muscles around your child’s airways. Your child should take these medicines as scheduled. They are also sometimes given on an as-needed basis.
Quick-relief (rescue) medicine. These medicines are fast-acting. They will give your child quick relief when their symptoms start. They relax and open your child’s airways. Always carry this medicine with you.
Inhaled corticosteroids. These medicines are often taken by children with chronic symptoms. They are sometimes given regularly, but also can be used as needed. They are given to decrease inflammation in the lungs, which helps open your child’s airways. They are inhaled right into the lungs’ airways.
Oral steroids. If your child’s symptoms are severe enough, they may need to take steroids by mouth, as directed by the healthcare provider.
Asthma symptoms and triggers
Your child’s symptoms will determine what zone they’re in (green, yellow, or red) based on information listed on their Asthma Action Plan.
Asthma symptoms. List your child's asthma symptoms and what to do if they occur. Add specific instructions about your child’s medicines. This includes the name, dose, how to take them, and how often. Add any other important details about why to take them.
Triggers. List any triggers or air irritants (also called allergens) that make your child’s asthma worse. Your child should stay away from the irritants or any other substances that may trigger their asthma symptoms.
Peak flow meter
Ask your child’s healthcare provider to teach you how to find your child’s personal best for peak flow readings. Peak flow readings tell you what zone your child is in, based on information in their Asthma Action Plan.
Green Zone: Go. Peak flow reading that is 80% to 100% of your child’s personal best.
Yellow Zone: Caution. Peak flow reading that is 50% to 79% of your child’s personal best, or your child’s peak flow reading has decreased by at least 15% .
Red Zone: Danger. Peak flow reading that is less than 50% of your child’s personal best.
Recess, gym class, exercise, and school trips
Your child’s Asthma Action Plan should have special instructions for these situations, including:
Medicine. List the medicine’s name and how much your child should take before doing any physical activities such as recess, gym class, or exercise. Include plans for giving your child medicine on field trips.
Activities. List any physical activities (such as recess, gym class, or exercise) or field trips that your child should not take part in.
Special safety measures and instructions. List any special safety steps that your child should take. This may include wearing a scarf or ski mask on cold days. Or it may include not exercising outside when there are high levels of pollen, mold, or other air irritants. Include any other directions from your child’s healthcare provider.
Be sure to include:
Medical contact information. List the name and phone number of your child’s healthcare provider. Also include the name of your child’s emergency contacts, legal guardians, or caregivers.
When to call the healthcare provider. Include clear instructions on what to do when your child’s symptoms are getting worse, and when to call the healthcare provider. Add any other directions from your child’s provider.
When to call 911. Include clear instructions on when emergency care is needed. Direct others to call 911 if your child’s symptoms are not responding to treatment, or your child is in respiratory distress.
Putting it all together
It’s a good idea to meet with your child's school nurse, teachers, coaches, and other staff members at the start of each school year. Your child can be there, too. You may also need to meet at other times during the school year. It’s also important to meet and talk about your child’s Asthma Action Plan with all their caregivers. Make sure you talk about the following:
Asthma Action Plan
Be sure to:
Review the plan.
Make sure all caregivers, family members, teachers, and other school staff know how to use an inhaler, spacer, and peak flow meter.
Talk with your child’s healthcare provider to be sure that you and your child know how to use all their medicines correctly. Then you can show others how to use them correctly.
Make sure everyone understands the Asthma Action Plan zones and what to do if your child is in the yellow or red zones.
Talk about any school policies that affect your child’s asthma management. For instance, some schools let kids keep their quick-relief medicine with them in their bag or locker. But other schools keep medicines in the school office or the school nurse’s office. Many states now have laws that require that students be allowed to carry and take asthma medicines on their own. Discuss local policies with your child’s healthcare provider and with school staff.
Your child will also need to stay away from air irritants or any other substances that may trigger their asthma symptoms. If pet dander is a trigger, find out if animals such as gerbils or hamsters are kept in your child’s classroom.
For example, ask how medicine will be handled during field trips.
Examples of Asthma Action Plans
Below is a list of examples of Asthma Action Plans for children. Some plans are available in both English and Spanish. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider to find out which plan is best for your child.
American Lung Association
American Academy of Pediatrics
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America