Do You Have an Asthma Action Plan?

If you or your children have asthma, you need an asthma action plan. This is a written plan you and your doctor develop to prevent asthma attacks. It does this by helping you:

  • Recognize your asthma triggers so you can avoid them
  • Measure your peak flow numbers regularly to stay on top of your breathing patterns
  • Know what action to take when your peak flow numbers are off
  • Remember to take your medication at the proper times

It’s an emergency plan designed to keep an asthma emergency from ever happening.

The plan puts all this information in writing. It takes your best readings from your peak flow meter and divides them into three zones:

  • The green, or best, zone is the goal. Green means you can go, go, go. You can do the things you normally do without wheezing, coughing, or straining to breathe. You want to be in this zone all the time.
  • In the yellow zone, you’re actively experiencing asthma symptoms. You’re wheezing, coughing, and breathing with some difficulty. Your sleep might be interrupted because you can’t breathe. It’s time to call your doctor. If you have not been taking your medication regularly, this might be why you’re in the yellow zone. If you’re following your plan, you might need to have your medication adjusted.
  • The red zone is the emergency zone. In the red zone, you’re having trouble breathing, walking, and talking. If you’re in this zone, you want to seek emergency care. Call 911.

The goal is to take consistent action that keeps you in the green zone or gets you back there if you slip into the yellow zone.

You’ll take peak flow meter readings throughout the day to monitor your breathing. This is an important tool because it can alert you that you’re going to have a problem even before you feel the symptoms. Compare your meter readings to your action plan zones:

  • If you’re in the green zone, you’ve probably been avoiding your triggers, measuring your peak flow regularly, and taking your daily medication on time. Keep doing what you’re doing.
  • If you’re in the yellow zone, find the instructions in your action plan for treating your symptoms. You might not even be feeling the symptoms yet. This does not matter; your meter is warning you of what will happen if you don’t take action. Take action.
  • If you’re in the red zone, follow the action plan’s instructions for using your emergency medication. If your symptoms don’t change, call 911 or seek emergency care immediately.

Visit webMD.com to download their plan. Take the plan to your doctor, and together work out a plan for you. EPFMC also has a Pediatric Asthma program that helps you and your children manage their asthma. See our video on our Pediatric Asthma Clinic.