You should ask for a written action plan that explains how to take your medicines
and control your asthma. Action plans come in a variety of styles and formats.
Sometimes you will get several sets of instructions, other times all of the
instructions will be combined into one form. The most important thing is that
the instructions should be easy to read and understand.
The zone system
One of the most common action plan formats is the "zone system," which is
based on traffic lights:
The GREEN ZONE explains how to manage your asthma
on a daily (or regular) basis. In other words, it tells you what drugs
to take on normal days when you are feeling good.
The YELLOW ZONE explains signs to look for that your
asthma is getting worse. (Signs can include symptoms getting worse, or
a drop in peak flow.) The yellow zone tells you what additional drugs/steps
to take to bring your asthma back under control.
The RED ZONE explains when to contact a doctor or
go to the emergency room.
Your action plan assumes that you are monitoring your own body for signs that
your asthma is getting worse. Action plans designed for school can be especially
important, so that everyone knows what to do when the asthma gets worse, and
all the right medicines and phone numbers are on hand. There are two basic
ways to do this:
- Action plans can be based on the signs and symptoms themselves -- coughing,
wheezing, breathing difficulties (such as shortness of breath), and chest
tightness. Here is an example of an action plan
that includes only the signs.
- Action plans can be based on your "peak flow." Peak flow is described in
the next step. Here is an example of an action plan that includes both
signs and peak flow.
Review Date: 5/16/2007
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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