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How an Action Plan Can Help You Treat Asthma and Allergic Reactions

 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and MedicAlert have teamed up to help you manage your asthma and allergies prevent life-threatening emergencies.

Make a pact to “ACT” to manage your asthma and allergies:

  • “A” means have an action plan for asthma or anaphylaxis.
  • “C” reminds you to carry emergency medicines and wear a medical ID to alert others of your condition.
  • “T” calls for having a treatment plan that includes when to take your medicines and what to do in an emergency.

When you enroll in a new MedicAlert membership through this special link or via phone [1.800.432.5378], use the code AAFA and MedicAlert will donate 20% of your membership fees to support our mission to save lives and reduce the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies through support, advocacy, education and research.


What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease. It causes your airways to become inflamed. This makes it hard to breathe. About 25 million Americans have asthma.

Common asthma symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing (a whistling, squeaky sound when you breathe)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest tightness

You may have asthma symptoms when you are exposed to things your airways are sensitive to. These are called triggers. Triggers can include pollen, dust, pests, scents, chemicals and smoke.

Asthma can lead to a medical emergency. But if you keep your asthma under control, you can reduce your chances of having a serious asthma attack.

How Can an Asthma Action Plan Help Me?

To help you keep your asthma under control, you'll need an Asthma Action Plan. This is a document with instructions on how to manage your asthma. If you don't have an Asthma Action Plan, ask your doctor to create one for you.

An Asthma Action Plan tells you:

  • Instructions on when and how often to take your medicines
  • Signs and symptoms that mean your asthma is getting worse
  • What to do in an emergency

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Download PDF – English

Download PDF Spanish


An Asthma Action Plan is divided into three zones:

greenAsthma Green Zone – Your asthma is under control. You can do daily activities. You sleep through the night without symptoms. This zone includes instructions for taking your daily long-term control medicine.

yellowAsthma Yellow Zone – This is a warning zone when your asthma may be getting worse. If you have cough, mild wheeze, a cold, chest tightness or coughing at night, you are in the Yellow Zone. Your plan will tell you which medicine to take and how much to take to help you get back to the Green Zone.

redAsthma Red Zone – This is the danger zone. You may have trouble walking, talking and eating. Take your quick-relief medicine and get help from a health care provider immediately! Your health care provider will want to see you right away. It’s important!


Call 911 or your doctor right away for:

  • Fast breathing with chest retractions (skin sucks in between or around the chest plate and/or rib bones when inhaling)
  • Cyanosis (very pale or blue coloring in the face, lips, fingernails); may only be visible on light-pigmented skin
  • Rapid movement of nostrils
  • Ribs or stomach moving in and out deeply and rapidly
  • Expanded chest that does not deflate when you exhale
  • Trouble speaking
  • Quick-relief medicine is not helping


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What Is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis [anna-fih-LACK-sis] is a serious allergic reaction. Foods, drugs, insects and latex cause most serious allergic reactions. Symptoms can occur after contact with an allergen and get worse fast. You must treat it as soon as possible. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.

Some symptoms include anaphylaxis include a sudden onset of:

  • Skin rashes and itching and hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing (whistling sound during breathing)
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feeling like something awful is about to happen

The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid your allergens.

How Can an Anaphylaxis Action Plan Help Me Get Prompt Treatment?

When you have allergies, you need to know the signs of anaphylaxis and what to do if you have a reaction. Anaphylaxis needs to be treated as soon as possible after symptoms appear to give you the best chance to recover and reduce the chance of complications.

Your doctor can give you an anaphylaxis action plan to help you know when to use epinephrine to treat an allergic reaction. It is a document that tells you symptoms to watch for and what to do if you have a serious reaction.

Always be familiar with your anaphylaxis action plan. Keep a copy with your epinephrine. If your child carries epinephrine, give copies to their other caregivers as well.

Prepare, Care and Share

Share this image and tweets to spread awareness:

  1. In honor of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, I'm making a pact to A.C.T. for Asthma and Allergy. By working together, we can reduce severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions: aafa.org/act #act4asthma #act4allergy via @AAFANational Tweet This

  2. A is for Action Plan: Make an Asthma Action Plan with your doctor. Be able to identify severe symptoms, know which medicine to take and know your #asthma triggers. aafa.org/act #act4asthma via @AAFANational Tweet This


Get the support you need to manage your asthma and allergies. Join our community to follow our blog for the latest asthma and allergy education, news and research. Our community also gives you the chance to connect with others who manage asthma and allergies in an encouraging and supportive environment.

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