Understanding Asthma Self-Management Plans

It is very useful to agree on an asthma self-management plan with your own doctor. This gives specific, detailed information which is personal to you about how to cope with your asthma.

The plan, which should be written down, may be based partly on peak flow readings. For instance, if your peak flow falls below a certain level, the management plan will recommend extra reliever medicine. If it falls lower still, the plan may suggest that you start a short course of steroid tablets.

Research has shown that people who follow such plans end up taking less medication. However, no matter how foolproof your plan seems to be, it is not intended as a substitute for your own doctor. If your asthma starts to get worse (or much better) you should tell your doctor immediately so that he or she can make any necessary changes to your medication.

It is tempting to soldier on without bothering the doctor – apart from the occasional repeat prescription. In fact, you have a better chance of keeping your asthma under control if you tell your doctor about any day-to-day changes in the nature or frequency of your asthma attacks.

However not everyone will want the responsibility of a self-management plan. Even if you prefer to leave this kind of fine tuning to your doctor, it is important to discuss with him what you should do when you have an asthma attack, and how to act in an emergency. This information should be given verbally, and also in writing so it is also available to people who may be caring for you.

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