Last updated on 20/05/2020

Download our free Written Asthma Action Plan here

We know what a deeply unsettling time it is for people living with asthma.

Over summer we experienced the bushfires that spread across the country, and now we are living through a respiratory disease pandemic unprecedented in the modern era.

As people with asthma consider their “new normal” lives, the importance of asthma control and maintenance is critical.

But it can be managed well and easily by following a simple and clearly Written Asthma Action Plan.

What is a Written Asthma Action Plan you may ask?

A Written Asthma Action Plan (WAAP) is a document that enables piece of mind around your asthma by acting as a reminder of what to do in case asthma gets out of control. It acts as a clear reminder around what steps to take when you or someone you care for experiences asthma symptoms, and what to do when you have an asthma flare-up or asthma attack. The Written Asthma Action Plan is a critical tool in the self-management toolkit of people with asthma.

A Written Asthma Action Plan is clearly named and dated, written by your doctor after careful consideration with you. Regular reviews – particularly ahead of the winter season or if asthma symptoms are occurring or changing – of your Written Asthma Action Plan are important to ensure your plan is up to date and meets your needs when you need it.

All carers and family members – as well as schools, early education centres and sports facilities as required – should be aware of your Written Asthma Action Plan, so they can assist generally and in the event of an asthma emergency.

What is usually included in it?

Everyone with asthma has different experiences and levels of symptoms, so everyone’s Written Asthma Action Plan will be personalised and different.

Generally, the plans are broken down into three main sections.

The first section clearly sets out your daily asthma maintenance. This is what you do when you don’t have any symptoms.

It could include the names and dosage of each asthma-control medication, both the preventers and relievers.

It could also include useful information such as what triggers your asthma and how you might prepare yourself, for example when you exercise, or at the start of spring – whatever is relevant to you and your asthma.

The second section explains what to do when you or the person with asthma is not well.

It may be that you are experiencing more symptoms than usual, or you find yourself waking up with asthma or needing more reliever medication than you would normally.

The Written Asthma Action Plan will outline temporary changes in preventer medication use and as well as instructions for using your reliever.

It also highlights when to contact a medical professional.

The next section sets out what to do in case of a severe asthma attack or flare-up which is causing difficulty with breathing and where symptoms return within 3 hours after using your reliever. It can also include regularly waking overnight with symptoms or symptoms on waking.

It will advise to contact medical assistance and the best way to do so.

In addition to adjustments to your usual preventer and reliever medications, it may also include when to use additional medicines.

This could include corticosteroids such as Prednisolone and Prednisone.

A Written Asthma Action Plan should also include an emergency section, explaining when to call an ambulance on 000 (triple zero) as well as advice of Asthma First Aid steps (noting they may be different for each individual). An emergency situation may be when you are experiencing severe breathing problems, quickly worsening symptoms, or relievers not working as they should.

It may also include when to use an EpiPen or adrenaline autoinjector, and how to do so.

It is critical that you have an up to date Written Asthma Action Plan and that you understand it and are able to follow the instructions on it. It should not be written for you, but always written with you.

Why keep an up-to-date Written Asthma Action Plan?

It may be a simple document, but a Written Asthma Action Plan is one of the most effective asthma interventions we have.

It sets out all relevant personalised asthma information and allows you to better understand and monitor your (or the person you care for) condition.

We know that ongoing use and reviews of your Written Asthma Action Plan leads to fewer days off from school or work, reduced emergency visits to hospital and less use of reliever medication.

And this all this leads to better asthma outcomes, which is so important as we head into the winter months. After reading this, it might be a good time to make sure you are regularly taking your preventer medication if it’s part of your asthma management. And if it’s not prescribed, ask yourself whether you want to discuss the option with your doctor.

Only one in four Australians with asthma have a Written Asthma Action Plan.

Now is the time to get yours.

Download our free Written Asthma Action Plan here

Contact one of our Asthma Educators on our free-call number 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) if need have further questions about a Written Asthma Action Plan for you.