COPD Action Plan & Management Tools

Learn how to talk to your healthcare provider and other healthcare professionals about how you feel, how and when to take your medicines and your COPD treatments.

My COPD Action and Management Plan

A COPD Action and Management Plan is a 3-in-1 personalized worksheet that lists the steps to take to manage your COPD depending on how you feel. With a plan, you will know how and when to take your medicines, when to call your healthcare provider and when to get emergency care.

Learn and track your daily COPD symptoms, sleep patterns, and how you feel when you are having good days or bad days. Then you will be able to tell when you may be experiencing signs of a COPD flare up.

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A management plan also helps you track how you are doing, any concerns you may have and any changes in your health that are important to discuss with your doctor.

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What is in a COPD Action Plan?

Your COPD action plan will include information about what to do when you are feeling well, what to do when you have symptoms and what to do when your COPD symptoms are getting worse. There are several types of medicines used to treat COPD and your action plan should include the names of your medicines, how much to take and when to take it.

A COPD action plan is divided into three zones: green, yellow and red.  The dose and frequency of your medications may change depending on your COPD zone.

COPD Zones

Green Zone

Green Zone

The green zone is where you want to be everyday.

In this zone, you have no COPD symptoms, and you feel good. Continue to take your long-term control medicine(s) and use your oxygen as prescribed even if you're feeling well.

Yellow Zone

Yellow Zone

The yellow zone means that you have more COPD symptoms than usual. You should call your healthcare provider if symptoms do not improve after treatment.

You may experience increased shortness of breath, tiredness and coughing. You may notice you are coughing up phlegm or mucus that has a change in color or consistency. If you are in this zone, you should slow down and follow the steps of your plan. This may include using your quick-relief medicine or starting an antibiotic or other medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Red Zone

Red Zone

The red zone means you are experiencing severe COPD symptoms, or a COPD exacerbation.  If you are in this zone you should call 911 or seek medical care immediately.

In this zone, you may have severe shortness of breath even at rest, chest pain, cough up blood, or chills. Other signs or symptoms that may appear along with your severe COPD symptoms are blue or gray color in your lips, fingertips or nails, racing heart rate, confusion, or fever. You may not be able to sleep or do any activities because of your difficulty breathing.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Living with a chronic lung disease like COPD can make you feel like you are always trying to catch your breath. Practicing deep-breathing exercises, like "Belly Breathing" (or diaphragmatic breathing) can help. When you are experiencing shortness of breath, try using a "Pursed Lip" breathing technique to relax your airways and resume a normal breath. 

Watch the demonstration videos to learn more about these breathing techniques: 

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