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Asthma Action Plan

Overview

An asthma action plan is a written plan that tells you what asthma medicine to take every day and how to treat an asthma attack. It can help you make quick decisions in case you can't think clearly during an attack.

Your plan can help you stay active and have fewer problems. It may include:

  • Your treatment goals.
  • A list of your asthma medicines and when to take them.
  • How to treat symptoms before you have an attack.
  • What to do if an attack becomes an emergency, and where to get help.
  • How to measure your peak flow, if your doctor recommends you do this.
  • An asthma diary to keep track of your symptoms and triggers, peak flow, and what medicines you took for quick relief.

Your plan is based on zones defined by your symptoms or your peak flow, or both. It tells you what to do when you're in each zone.

Asthma zones are part of your asthma action plan. The zones are defined by your symptoms, your peak flow, or both. Knowing what zone you're in can help you know how well your asthma is under control and if you need help.

The three zones are:

Green zone.

Green means good. This zone is where you want to be.

When you're in the green zone, one or more of these things may be true:

  • You don't have any symptoms.
  • You're able to do your usual activities and can sleep without having symptoms.
  • Your peak flow (if you check it) is 80% to 100% of your personal best measurement.
Yellow zone.

Yellow means caution. If you're in this zone, it may mean you're having an asthma attack or that your medicine needs to be increased.

When you're in the yellow zone, one or more of these things may be true:

  • You may not have any symptoms, but your lung function is reduced.
  • When symptoms are present, you may cough, wheeze, or feel short of breath, or your chest may feel tight. Or your asthma may limit your activities or wake you up at night.
  • Your peak flow (if you check it) is 50% to less than 80% of your personal best measurement.
Red zone.

Red means DANGER. If you're in this zone, you may be having a severe asthma attack. Being in the red zone is dangerous. If you're in the red zone, you need to take action right away.

When you're in the red zone, one or more of these things may be true:

  • You may be very short of breath.
  • You can't do your usual activities.
  • You use your chest muscles to breathe. The skin between, above, and under the ribs collapses inward with each breath (retractions).
  • You wheeze. But if your symptoms are very severe, you may not hear any wheezing. Wheezing will stop when the amount of air moving through the bronchial tubes becomes dangerously low. In this case, no wheezing is actually worse than hearing wheezing.
  • Your quick-relief medicine doesn't help.
  • Your peak flow (if you check it) is less than 50% of your personal best measurement.

Credits

Current as of: October 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Rohit K Katial MD - Allergy and Immunology

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