Create an Asthma Action Plan
If you have asthma, work with your healthcare provider to create a plan with instructions for early treatment of your asthma symptoms. An Asthma Action Plan is a written, individualized worksheet that shows you the steps to take to keep your asthma from getting worse. It also provides guidance on when to call your healthcare provider or when to go to the emergency room.
An asthma action plan is an important tool to share with caregivers of children with asthma, including daycare providers, schools and aftercare programs. Use the school-aged asthma action plan, Asthma Action plan for Home and School that includes language for school-aged children to self-carry their asthma inhaler in school.
Download an Asthma Action Plan
Download an action plan below and take it to your or your child's next healthcare visit. Read on for more information about what is included in the plan.
What's In an Asthma Action Plan
Your asthma action plan should include:
- Factors that make your asthma worse, "asthma triggers"
- Medicines you take to treat your asthma with specific names of each medicine
- Symptoms or peak flow measurements (if used) that indicate worsening asthma
- Medicines to take based on your signs, symptoms or peak flow measurements (if used)
- Symptoms or peak flow measurements (if used) that indicate the need for urgent medical attention
- Telephone numbers for an emergency contact, your healthcare provider, and your local hospital
An asthma action plan is divided into three zones (green, yellow and red). The green zone is where you want to be on a daily basis. In this zone, you have no asthma symptoms and you feel good. Continue to take your long-term control medicine(s) even if you're feeling well. The yellow zone means that you are experiencing symptoms. This is where you should slow down and follow the steps including the use of your quick-relief medicine to keep your asthma from getting worse. And, the red zone means you are experiencing severe asthma symptoms or an asthma flare-up. Follow the steps in your asthma action plan and get immediate medical treatment if your symptoms do not improve.
You should work with your healthcare provider to determine your zones. Your asthma action plan can be based on peak flow rate or asthma symptoms.
- Peak Flow Rate: Your healthcare provider may want you to use peak flow monitoring, especially if you have moderate to severe asthma. Your peak flow rate can show if your asthma is getting worse, even before you feel symptoms. Your peak flow rate is measured with a peak flow meter. To use your peak flow rate to determine the zones on your asthma action plan, you first need to spend some time determining your personal best. Your personal best is the highest peak flow number you achieve in a two- to three-week period. Your healthcare provider will use your personal best peak flow rate to calculate the zones in your asthma action plan.
- Symptoms: Another way to monitor your asthma control is to track your symptoms. Common asthma symptoms that indicate a problem include:
- Daytime symptoms (cough, wheeze or chest tightness)
- Problems with activity level (working, exercising or playing)
- Nighttime symptoms
Your asthma action plan will include your medicines and instructions for what to do when you are feeling well, what to do when you have asthma symptoms and what to do when your asthma symptoms are getting worse. It should include the names of your medicines, how much to take and when to take it. The dose and frequency may change depending on your asthma zone.
What to Do in an Emergency
The Red Zone of your asthma action plan tells you the steps you need to take in an emergency. This portion of your plan should include: emergency telephone numbers for the doctor, emergency department, rapid transportation and family/friends for support.
Long-term Control Medicines/Quick-relief Medicines: What You Need to Know
- Long-term control medicines (also called controller, maintenance or anti-inflammatory medicines) help prevent asthma symptoms by controlling the swelling in your lungs and decreasing mucus production. These medicines work slowly but help control your asthma for hours. They must be taken regularly (even when you don't have asthma symptoms) in order to work.
- Quick-relief medicines (sometimes called rescue medicines) relieve or stop asthma symptoms once they have started. They are inhaled and work quickly to relax the muscles that tighten around your airways. When the muscles relax, your airways open up and you breathe easier. Quick-relief medicines can be used before you exercise to avoid asthma symptoms.
Understanding Your Asthma Medication
It's important to take your asthma medicine exactly as your healthcare provider has instructed. Get more detailed information on types of asthma medicines and how they work.
Asthma Action Plan [PDF]Download
Asthma Action Plan for Home and School [PDF]Download
Plan de acción contra el asma [PDF]Download
Plan de acción contra el asma para el hogar y la escuela [PDF]Download
Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed May 23, 2018.