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asthma action plan is a written plan that tells you
how to treat your asthma on a daily basis. The plan also helps you deal with
sudden increases in your or your child's asthma symptoms (asthma attacks). You need to treat the
inflammation in your lungs to minimize the long-term
effects of asthma. The plan tells you what medicine is needed every day, what
steps to take for an asthma attack (based on its severity), and when you should
call a doctor or seek emergency treatment.
You and your doctor
make the asthma action plan. In general, the plan includes:
Your action plan is based on zones of asthma severity
defined by symptoms and your personal best
peak expiratory flow (PEF), which is your highest peak
flow recorded over a 2- to 3-week period when your asthma is under control.
Personal best is never measured during an asthma attack. If you do not know your
personal best, talk to your doctor.
The best strategy for avoiding and treating asthma
attacks is being able to recognize an attack and know what to do. Talk to your
See an example of an
asthma action plan(What is a PDF document?).
If you have no symptoms and your PEF is
stable, you are in the green zone. Keep taking daily controller medicine if you
have it. You do not need quick-relief treatment.
If your symptoms
are mild or moderate (in the yellow zone), treat them at home using the
medicines specified in your asthma action plan. You can expect some relief of
your asthma symptoms. Seek medical help if the symptoms do not go away soon
after you take the prescribed medicine or if the symptoms become worse.
If your symptoms are severe (in the red zone), seek medical help
immediately. While you are seeking emergency help, follow your action plan and
take your medicines as directed. You may need emergency room treatment or
admission to the hospital. After a severe asthma attack, you may need a short
treatment using corticosteroids by mouth to bring your symptoms under
You and your doctor will work together
to create an asthma action plan. Your action plan tells you what medicine you
need to take every day and what to do if you notice a change in your asthma
symptoms or PEF. This helps you make quick decisions about treatment so that
you can avoid more serious attacks and get better.
A review of research on asthma action
plans reports that plans based on personal best
peak expiratory flow and that recommended both the use
of inhaled and pill-form
corticosteroids to treat asthma attacks improved
people's asthma health outcome.1
If you do not follow your action plan or do not
use the medicines it specifies, you may have a worse or longer asthma attack.
You may have to seek emergency care or go to the hospital.
It is important to treat asthma
attacks quickly, especially in children. Babies and small children need to be
watched closely during asthma attacks. And caregivers should seek medical help
early during an attack. Your child's symptoms do not always indicate the severity
of the attack. If your child does not improve soon after treatment for an
attack, talk to your doctor.
Asthma attacks cannot be controlled by drinking large
amounts of liquids or taking non-prescription medicines such as antihistamines
or cold remedies. But if you have asthma, you can take antihistamines for other
problems, such as colds. Antihistamines will not make your asthma symptoms
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
Gibson PG, Powell H (2004). Written action plans for asthma: An evidence-based review of key components. Thorax, 59(2): 94–99.
February 13, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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