Developing an Asthma Action Plan
What is an asthma action plan?
An asthma action plan is a written plan developed by your doctor to help you manage your asthma and prevent asthma attacks. The plan is designed to tell you what to do when you experience changes in the severity of your symptoms and in your peak flow numbers.
How are these plans designed?
Asthma action plans can be organized in a number of ways. The important thing is that your plan gives you and your family information that can be used in the event that you experience an asthma emergency. An asthma action plans may include:
  • A list of the triggers responsible for your asthma and how to avoid them.
  • A list of peak flow meter readings and zones based on your personal best.
  • A list of routine symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and excess mucus production, as well as what you should do if these symptoms occur.
  • What you should do if nighttime asthma symptoms awaken you.
  • A list of more serious asthma symptoms such as decreased effectiveness of your reliever medicine and breathlessness and what you should do if these symptoms occur.
  • The name and dose of the quick-acting or rescue medication that needs to be taken, even when there are no symptoms, and the name and dose of the reliever medication that needs to be taken when you are having an asthma attack.
  • Emergency telephone numbers and locations of emergency care.
  • Instructions about when to contact your doctor, whom to call if your doctor is unavailable, and a list of where to get emergency treatment.
For convenience, asthma action plans are often broken down into three zones: green, yellow and red. In each zone, your plan will give you doctor-written instructions on how to handle each instance.
Green: Where you should be every day - NO asthma symptoms. Able to do usual activities and sleep without coughing, wheezing or breathing difficulty. Peak Flow (80-100% of personal best).
Yellow (Caution): This is NOT where you should be. There may be coughing, wheezing and mild shortness of breath. Sleep and usual activities may be disturbed. You may be more tired than usual. Peak flow (50-80% personal best). Call your doctor if you keep dropping into the yellow zone. The green zone plan may need to be changed to prevent this.
Red: Red zone means you need urgent medical care. Symptoms may include frequent, severe cough, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, trouble talking, walking, and rapid breathing. Peak flow (<50% personal best). If you are gasping for air, have blue lips or fingernails or are unable to do a Peak Flow, Call 9-1-1.
Asthma action plans should be reviewed with your doctor at least once a year. Changes in the plan may be needed because of changes in your peak flow numbers or the medications you are taking.
Always keep your plan somewhere it can be easily found by you or your family.