Asthma action plans

A written asthma action plan will help you recognise worsening asthma and tell you what to do in response.

Follow a written asthma action plan for:

  • Better controlled asthma
  • Fewer asthma attacks
  • Fewer days off work or school
  • Reduced reliever medication use
  • Fewer hospital visits.

The process of developing an asthma action plan with your doctor is important. This should be a discussion of your individual circumstances, asthma patterns and triggers, and current management. Your personal written asthma action plan is a reminder of that discussion.

Written asthma action plans are one of the most effective asthma management tools available. If you or someone you are responsible for has asthma, ask about developing an asthma action plan. 

To see some common action plan templates, go to Asthma action plan examples.

What is a written asthma action plan?

A written asthma action plan is a set of instructions that helps you recognise worsening asthma and tells you what to do in response. Different action plans suit different people, but all plans should have the same key information.

Your personalised asthma action plan should include:

  • a list of your usual asthma medicines, including doses
  • instructions on what to do when asthma is getting worse (including when to take extra doses or extra medicines, and when to contact a doctor or go to the emergency department)
  • what to do in an asthma emergency
  • the name of the doctor or other health professional who prepared the plan with you
  • the date.
Z Card1

How does an action plan work?

The aim of an asthma action plan is to help a person with asthma and/or their carer take early action to prevent or reduce the severity of an asthma attack.

The asthma action plan may be based on symptoms and/or peak flow measurements. It is personalised according to the pattern of your own asthma.

In children, plans based on symptoms are preferred. In most children with asthma, change in symptoms is just as effective as peak flow for indicating that asthma is getting worse.

What should I do with my action plan?

Once you and your doctor have completed your asthma action plan, it will be given to you to keep. You could use it to remind yourself of your usual medication dose, know what triggers or symptoms to look out for, or check what to do if you start to feel unwell.

Some people like to make several copies of their action plan so they can keep one in the car, one at work and one at home. Written asthma action plans are available in many different formats, including a handy Z-card that folds down to credit card size for your wallet or purse and the Asthma Buddy smartphone app. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a format that suits you.

If you are the parent or carer of a child with asthma, you might like to get extra copies made of their asthma action plan so you can give one to your child’s grandparents or any other regular carers. You should also give a copy to your child's school, pre-school and/or childcare facility.

Remember to regularly review your asthma action plan with your doctor, as your level of asthma severity or control may change over time.

Action plans for anaphylaxis, allergic reactions and eczema

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) has developed a range of action plans for anaphylaxis, allergic reactions and eczema. Having an anaphylaxis action plan is particularly important for people at risk of serious allergic reactions.

The action plans are available from the ASCIA website, see: Anaphylaxis and allergic reactions action plans