Take Control of Your Asthma with the Asthma Action Plan

Take Control of Your Asthma with the Asthma Action Plan

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Barbara Cybart in Introductory Topics

Asthma is a highly variable disease whose symptoms vary between people and may change differently for people during the course of a year.

Therefore, an individualized approach must be taken to treat asthmatics. The Asthma Action Plan is a tool that aids in the self-management of asthma to help; take control of asthma symptoms, know when to increase or decrease medications and to make an informed decisions about when to seek emergency help.

The Asthma Action Plan is a series of steps that you can use to manage your asthma when it gets out of control. The Asthma Action Plan uses a gradient method of three zones. The first is the Green Zone. To be in the green zone an asthmatic must be entirely symptom free at rest and when exercising, and cannot take days off work due to asthma. The Green Zone corresponds to section on daily controller medication dosage, which stresses that to remain symptom free the medication must be taken every day.

The next zone going down the Asthma Action Plan gradient is the Yellow Zone. An asthmatic progresses from the Green Zone to the Yellow Zone when he has asthma symptoms – cough, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath – during the day, when exercising, or sleeping and need to use a reliever inhaler more than three times a week. This zone in the Asthma Action Plan corresponds to a two-step medication program in which either the amount of controller is increased or a Doctor adds on another controller to the person’s asthma medication. The first step is a reliever medication time table of 2 puffs per a certain amount of time (established by the primary health care provider). The second step is a controller medication time table which foresees an increase in controller medication use, until the asthmatic returns to the Green Zone.  Furthermore, at the bottom a space is provided to note after how many hours of being in the Yellow Zone a person should contact their Doctor.

The final zone of the Asthma Action Plan gradient is the Red Zone. To be in the Red Zone someone would have to meet any of the following criteria: being in the Yellow Zone for 24 hours, worsening of asthma symptoms, when reliever medication does not seem to be working, inability to do any activity, trouble walking or talking, feeling faint or dizzy, having blue lips or fingernails, and if the attack came on suddenly. If any person finds themselves in the Red Zone they should immediately go to the Emergency Room of the closest hospital. The Asthma Action Plan dictates that if anyone finds themselves in the Red Zone they should first call 9-1-1 and then take 2 puffs of reliever medication every 10 minutes while waiting for the ambulance.

Having a written agreement like the Asthma Action Plan is very helpful when managing asthma at home. To create your own individualized Asthma Action Plan, click on the link below, print it out and discuss it your Doctor.

Asthma Action Plan


[1] Action Plan via Asthma Society of Canada. Accessed August 1, 2012.  http://asthma.ca/adults/control/pdf/AsthmaActionPlan_ENG.pdf