After the initial diagnosis, it became apparent that we had to figure out a way to control Jack’s asthma – at school, at home, at play – in other words, 24/7. What a tall order! It’s hard enough to raise an energetic child, let alone one with a chronic condition that has to be monitored constantly. But as we learned, with a little bit of dedication, it’s certainly do-able.
Doctor visits could only do so much, and what’s more, we (my husband and I) could only be with him so many hours in a day. We had to teach Jack how to recognize and control his own asthma triggers. After talking with doctors and learning to keep track of when Jack’s asthma flared up, we started being able to stop some asthma flare-ups and minimize the intensity of others.
As part of this, with the help of Jack’s doctor, we developed an Asthma Action plan to control his symptoms. The plan is divided into three zones – green (safety), yellow (caution) and red (danger).
When Jack’s peak flow meter readings are in the safety zone, he takes a small dosage of his medication. If Jack experiences wheezing, shortness of breath or has a hard time doing normal activities he’s in the cautionary yellow zone, and we use rescue medications indicated on the Asthma Action Plan along with his usual medication.
The good news is that over time, we’ve been able to identify Jack’s asthma triggers – exercise and climate – to avoid entering the red or danger zone. That’s an all-out asthma attack (severe breathing problems, difficulty walking and talking) that could send him to the emergency room.
Jack knows when he’s going from green (normal, breathing well, no coughing or wheezing) on the scale to yellow (wheezing, coughing chest tightness), he stops running or playing ball – this usually nips the attack in the bud or gives him time to rest or use his inhaler. We keep track of the readings on Jack’s peak flow meter when he has symptoms and discuss them with his doctor. We sometimes make adjustments in his asthma medication or action plan based on these readings.
Dry and cold air are the worst weather triggers for him, so we monitor Jack’s time outdoors in the winter. We’ve developed a safe exercise routine that includes his favorite sport, golf and other activities that won’t cause flare-ups. Jack stays active and doesn’t miss out on fun time with friends and we minimize on the chance of an unplanned trip to the doctor.
The American Lung Association has an Asthma Action Plan that’s easy to follow. They even have cards you can print off their website. We give copies of Jack’s Asthma Action plan to babysitters and his teachers. Knowing what to look for and how to control it gives Jack confidence and makes us feel better. We keep a card with Jack’s AAP in the kitchen, bathroom, and other places around the house.
Asthma Action Plans are pretty straightforward, so it’s not hard to figure out what to do in case of a flare-up. Getting into the swing of things and teaching your child to follow an AAP consistently and correctly can be a challenge. What are some of your experiences using- and maintaining- an Asthma Action Plan?
Until next time,