Asthma Action Plan

Why use an asthma action plan?

Using an action plan takes the guesswork out of treating asthma episodes. The action plan will outline how to manage your asthma without always going to the doctor's office or the hospital. Using an action plan created just for you may also help you maintain your activities without suffering an increase in asthma symptoms.

Following an asthma action plan can help prevent and reduce inflammation in the bronchial tubes. This can also help prevent permanent bronchial scarring called “lung re-modeling”.

An asthma action plan helps to:

  • Take the guesswork out of treating episodes by telling you what to do when you or your child has an asthma episode. Often, you can treat symptoms without going to the doctor's office or the hospital.
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of episodes by letting you know what to watch for and how to treat the episode early.
  • Control asthma symptoms so that you or your child continues to be active with fewer asthma problems

What is an asthma action plan?

The action plan is based on zones of asthma care defined by your peak expiratory flow (PEF) rate and symptoms. A PEF is a way to measure how much air you can blow out of your lungs in one second. Measuring your own PEF every day will help you track how well you are doing.

Green Zone

Green means go. You are in the green zone of the asthma action plan if your peak expiratory flow rate is 80% to 100% of your personal best measurement. You want to be in the green zone every day. You should have no asthma symptoms when you are in the green zone.

Yellow Zone

Yellow means caution. You are in the yellow zone of the asthma action plan if your peak expiratory flow rate is 50% to 80% of your personal best measurement. Symptoms may not exist, may be mild to moderate, or may keep you from your usual activities or disturb your sleep. The yellow zone may mean that you are having an asthma episode or that your medicines need to be increased. The action plan should state what medications you need to take, how much to take, and when to take them. If you keep going into the yellow zone from the green zone, talk with your provider. Your regular medication may need to be changed.

Red Zone

Red means STOP. You are in the red zone of your asthma action plan if your peak expiratory flow rate is less than 50% of your personal best measurement. Your symptoms will be severe and you may have extreme shortness of breath and coughing or other symptoms that are specific only to you. If your symptoms and peak expiratory flow rate are in the red zone, seek medical help immediately. While you are seeking emergency help, follow your action plan and take your medications as directed. You may need emergency treatment, admission to a hospital, or to call 911.
See an example of an asthma action plan.

How to use an asthma action plan

Here is how you can get started using an asthma action plan.
1. Develop an asthma action plan with your provider. You and your doctor can develop an asthma action plan for you or your child. It can be based on peak expiratory flow rates and asthma symptoms. You need to let your provider know your personal preferences regarding asthma care. For instance, if you or your child is not comfortable measuring peak expiratory flow rates, you need to tell your provider and they can help you learn how.

2. Follow the asthma action plan. Following the action plan will give you confidence in your ability to handle asthma episodes. It helps take the guesswork out of asthma care. Recognizing and treating episodes early according to the action plan are important to good asthma control.

3. Watch for trends in symptoms. Take medication exactly as the asthma action plan says and continue to check your or your child's peak expiratory flow rate daily. Keep an asthma diary of daily symptoms, peak expiratory flow rates, and treatment. You also can write down questions you may have about treatment that you can ask your provider. An asthma diary makes you aware of changes in symptoms and how well treatment is working for you or your child.

4. Review the asthma action plan with your provider. Take the asthma action plan and the asthma diary with you when you visit your provider. Make sure you ask questions you have about the asthma plan or symptoms you or your child is having. Make sure you know how and when to contact your provider or go for asthma care. Let your provider know if parts of the plan are not helping asthma episodes. You also should let your provider know if you or your child is not able to follow the asthma action plan.

Where to go from here

Share this information with your provider, including a sample of the asthma action plan, and ask your provider to make an asthma action plan for you or your child. Your provider can access on on-line version of the asthma action plan on the Minnesota Department of Health website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/cdee/asthma/ActionPlan.html

Once an asthma action plan has been created for you or your child, you can follow the plan to manage you or your child’s asthma.

Updated Friday, 02-Aug-2013 10:33:41 CDT