SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Every person diagnosed with asthma should have an asthma action plan.
- Asthma action plans set out what steps to take to manage a person’s asthma day-to-day and what to do during a flare up or asthma attack or emergency.
- Asthma action plans must be provided to schools and childcare services and should be provided to other carers of children with asthma.
- Asthma symptoms should be reviewed with a doctor (GP) every 6 months for children and every year for adults, and the asthma action plan updated if necessary.
- Asthma action plans are usually developed by GPs, in discussion with the person with asthma and/or their parents/carers.
On this page
About asthma action plans
An up-to-date asthma action plan guides you and people who care for children with asthma on how to manage asthma day-to-day and how to respond to asthma flare ups and attacks, and in an emergency, including with asthma emergency first-aid.
There is no ‘standard’ asthma action plan, as everyone’s asthma is different. Your (or your child’s) plan needs to be developed to deal with your own triggers, signs and symptoms, and medication.
Purpose of an asthma action plan
The purpose of an asthma action plan is to provide clear instructions on how to prevent and control asthma symptoms for an individual.
Even if you know what to do when your asthma or your child’s asthma flares up, it is very useful to have clear instructions from your doctor written down in an emergency.
It is important to share these with people who may be caring for you or for your child with asthma so they also know what to do.
Following an asthma action plan and having regular reviews with your doctor can lead to:
- fewer days off from school or work
- reduced emergency visits to hospital
- less use of reliever medication.
What is on an asthma action plan
Asthma action plans for adults
According to the Australian Asthma Handbook a written asthma action plan for an adult with asthma should include all the following:
- the person’s usual asthma and allergy medicines
- clear instructions on how to change medication (including when and how to start a course of oral corticosteroids)
- when and how to get medical care, including during an emergency
- name of the person preparing the plan
- the date.
Asthma action plans for children
A written asthma action plan for a child with asthma should include all of the following:
- a list of the child’s usual medicines (names of medicines, doses, when to take each dose) – including treatment for related conditions such as allergic rhinitis
- clear instructions on what to do in all the following situations:
- when asthma is getting worse (for example, when needing more reliever medication than usual, waking up with asthma, more symptoms than usual, asthma is interfering with usual activities)
- when asthma symptoms get substantially worse (for example, when needing reliever medication again within 3 hours, experiencing increasing difficulty breathing, waking often at night with asthma symptoms such as coughing
- during an asthma emergency.
- instructions on when and how to get medical care (including contact telephone numbers)
- the name and contact details of the child’s emergency contact person (for example, parent)
- the name of the person writing the action plan, and the date it was issued.
Who develops asthma action plans
Your doctor (GP) should create your or your child’s asthma action plan with you. The GP will ask you about your symptoms and what you can do to manage them, including avoiding asthma triggers.
Sometimes, an asthma action plan can also be created by doctors or specialists working in a hospital.
Asthma action plans should be created to suit your needs, and be appropriate to your asthma symptoms, language, literacy level and ability to self-manage your asthma.
Asthma action plan templates
There are several templates for asthma action plans. Asthma Australia and National Asthma Council Australia provide commonly used asthma action plan templates, that, when completed by a doctor, contain all required content. These templates are available in a range of community languages and formats.
Asthma action plans can also be generated using GP medical software or provided by hospitals following admission for asthma.
Reviewing and updating your plan
How your or your child’s asthma is being managed should be reviewed with your doctor (GP):
- every 6 months for children and every year for adults
- or whenever a significant change in asthma symptoms occurs.
The asthma action plan should then be updated if necessary.
Children’s asthma symptoms are reviewed more frequently because symptoms can change as children grow and medication is more likely to need to be altered.
If your child’s asthma action plan changes remember to provide the latest plan to your child’s school, kindergarten or childcare provider.
If you have been provided with an asthma action plan for the first time following admission to hospital, you should see your GP as soon as possible after you leave so they can begin to monitor and manage your asthma with you.
Who uses asthma action plans and how
People with asthma and/or their carers
The primary purpose of an asthma action plan is to guide the person with asthma or their carer/s on how to manage asthma symptoms. The plan needs to easy to find when you need it. Ideas for keeping your plan accessible include:
- Keep the plan on the fridge or with asthma medications.
- Take a photo of it to keep on your phone.
- Use an app such as Kiss My Asthma or Asthma Buddy.
In addition to providing guidance for the person with asthma, asthma action plans are also used by organisations and services to better understand and respond to a person’s asthma.
In Victoria, primary, secondary and specialist schools have certain responsibilities when caring for a child with asthma and must be provided with an asthma action plan for each child with asthma attending their school.
Schools use the asthma action plan to develop a ‘student health support plan’ outlining how staff will support your child’s asthma or other specific health needs (for example, anaphylactic allergies) at school.
Your child’s school will prompt you annually to provide a current asthma action plan to the school. If your child’s plan changes at any time during the school year it is important to provide the updated plan to your child’s school as soon as possible.
Victorian schools should accept any asthma action plan that contains all the required information. Some schools may request additional information about your child’s asthma in some circumstances, for example, when planning school camps or excursions that may expose your child to allergens or asthma triggers.
For further information talk to your child’s school to find out more about how they manage and respond to asthma and view the Victorian Government Department of Education's asthma policy.
Early childhood education and care providers
Just like schools, government-registered providers of long day care, pre-school/kindergarten, outside school hours care (including vacation care), limited hours and occasional care services have certain responsibilities when caring for a child with asthma. These services must be given a copy of your child’s asthma action plan before your child starts at the service.
Staff and educators at the service refer to the asthma action plan for daily management and in the event of an asthma flare up or attack. Parents and carers should ensure that their child’s early childhood education and care provider has the latest asthma action plan, which they will keep with your child’s enrolment record.
If you (or your child) are admitted to hospital because of asthma, providing the hospital staff with a copy of your asthma action plan is very important.
Share your asthma action plan with doctors or specialists who are treating you if you are visiting or admitted to hospital through an emergency department. They can use this information to help them to make decisions about medication or steps to take in treating you, whether asthma-related or not.
The hospital may work with you and your GP to update the plan if necessary.
If you don’t have a regular GP or are changing your regular GP, for example after moving to a new location, providing your asthma action plan to the new GP will give them a good understanding of your asthma and treatment needs.
You need to review your asthma action plan every year with your GP, or every 6 months for children with asthma.
Anyone caring for your child with asthma
Any person caring for children with asthma, for example family members, friends or babysitters, should be provided with their asthma action plan so they know what to do should your child have a flare up or asthma attack when their usual parent/carer is not with them.
Respiratory specialists, for example ear, nose and throat specialists may use your asthma action plan to gain an understanding of your asthma and how asthma treatment/medication is impacting you.
Pharmacists can use your asthma action plan to ensure they are providing you with the correct asthma medication and to recommend an asthma action plan review with your doctor if required.
You may wish to share your asthma action plan with someone in your workplace, particularly if you have questions or concerns regarding asthma and your workplace.
Where to get help
- In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
- Emergency department of your nearest hospital
- Your GP (doctor)
- Your nearest pharmacy – for medication
- NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- National Home Doctor Service Tel. 13 SICK (13 74 25) – for after-hours home GP visits (bulked billed)
- Asthma Australia Tel. 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462)
- The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne – videos to help you better understand and manage your child's asthma
- Asthma Australia Asthma App – provides easy access to the latest asthma information, asthma medication and devices, device technique videos, asthma action plans, asthma first aid steps
- National Asthma Council of Australia
- Severe Asthma Toolkit – an evidence-based website developed by clinicians for clinicians, led by the Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma. It provides educational content on topics relevant to severe asthma and practical resources and tools to guide optimal asthma management by health care professionals
- Asthma, Kids Health Information, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.
- Asthma action plans, National Asthma Council Australia.
- My asthma guide, National Asthma Council Australia.
- Australian Asthma Handbook, The National Guidelines for Health Professionals, National Asthma Council Australia.
- Children with medical conditions attending education and care services, 2017, Department of Education, Victorian Government.
- Asthma policy, 2022, Policy and Advisory Library, Department of Education, Victorian Government.