Asthma: Action Plan and Getting Help

Young men's version of this guide
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An asthma action plan is a proactive way to keep your asthma under control. It’s written with your health care provider (HCP) and is personalized (just for you) An asthma plan has 3 zones – green, yellow, and red.

  • The green zone lists what medications you should take every day when you are feeling well.
  • The yellow zone tells you what to do at the first sign of a cough, cold, or wheeze.
  • The red zone tells you what to do if your Albuterol isn’t helping, or if you are very short of breath.

The idea behind having a “plan” is having important information such as: steps you need to take to stay symptom-free, a list of your medicines – the doses and how often you take them, your health care provider’s phone number, and a list of your asthma triggers, so you can have all these facts in one central location. You should have a copy of your Asthma Action Plan at home and with the nurse at school. You can also make a copy of your action plan and keep it with you. An asthma action plan also includes simple and clear instructions about how to identify early symptoms of an “asthma flare-up”, how to treat them, and when to go to the emergency room. You should feel comfortable talking with your HCP about your action plan and update it as things change.

Getting Help

It can be very scary if you have trouble breathing. Having a plan in mind and knowing when to go to the emergency room will help ease your worries.

What are the signs that I need to get help right away?

  • You are feeling like you need to use your fast acting (Albuterol) inhaler more than once every 4 hours
  • Your fast acting inhaler (Albuterol) does not start to work within 20 minutes of when you take it.
  • You are having trouble talking or walking because you are out of breath
  • You are not able to breathe – Call an ambulance and go to the closest emergency room

What should I do in an emergency?

If you have been using your asthma medications and they aren’t working and you can’t breathe – call an ambulance right away! If you don’t feel it’s an “emergency”, contact your health care provider. Remember – many teens have reported feeling like they should have taken an ambulance instead of having a friend or family member take them to the hospital by car, as their breathing got worse during the drive. Whoever is taking you to the hospital will not know what to do if you suddenly can’t breathe – and it CAN happen.

Additional Resources