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The importance of having an asthma action plan

Are you or a loved one affected by asthma? You’re not alone.

One in two Australians now living with a chronic health condition1. This month, we’re taking an in depth look at the prevalence of chronic conditions in Australia and how Aussies are affected. See more here.

Asthma affects 1 in 10 Aussies2, and according to the Asthma Australia, 34% of those affected by asthma report that it interferes with their daily life, which often translates to time off work, school and study.

Yet research has also shown that when actively managed, there’s a much better chance of reducing symptoms and attacks. Taking positive steps, such as writing a personal asthma action plan, can go a long way towards helping you manage the condition and maintain a better quality of life.

Why you need an asthma action plan

Having an action plan in place can help you stay on top of your symptoms when they first appear, which means there’s less chance asthma will get in the way of your daily life. An asthma action plan includes all the information you need to look after your condition, such as details of how to manage symptoms, how to recognise if your symptoms are getting worse, and gives you a clear strategy for how to handle an asthma emergency.

You can create your own asthma action plan, or download a template from Asthma Australia’s website.

What to include in your plan

  • Medication: Most people with asthma will take regular medication as part of their daily management of the condition, and will need to carry medication with them in the event of an attack. Your action plan will detail which medications to use when your symptoms are well-controlled, and will document them in a way that will help you act quickly if symptoms become severe or life-threatening.
  • Emergency plan and contact details: Your action plan will give simple and clear instructions of how to handle an asthma emergency, and should document emergency contact numbers, and details for helplines, support groups, your doctor and pharmacist, and anyone else who helps you to manage your asthma.
  • Known triggers: There’s a wide range of triggers that can lead to an asthma attack, and these can be different for each person. Knowing and understanding your personal triggers (particularly any allergies), will give you a much better chance at managing them.

Write your plan down, keep it in a visible place, or take a photo of it and keep it on your phone. Use it to monitor your asthma day-to-day, so you can be proactive at the first sign of any symptoms. Knowing it inside out means that in the event of an attack, you’ll likely to feel calmer and more in control of the situation. You can also give a copy to your close friends and family, or the school if you have young kids affected by the condition, so they can help you or your loved one carry out your plan.

Read more about the state of chronic illness in Australia.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases/
2 According to the Medibank Better Health Index, data collected January 2015 to December 2015

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