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During an asthma attack, the airways swell and narrow. This makes it hard to breathe. Asthma is a lifelong problem, but it does not have to limit you. If you take charge of your asthma, you can lead a full and active life.
You and your doctor will make an asthma action plan that outlines the two approaches to taking charge of asthma:
Using the asthma action plan also helps you keep track of your asthma and know how well your treatment is working.
If you or your child has been recently diagnosed, it may seem like there is a lot to remember. But the things you need to do to take charge of your asthma are really quite simple. With some practice, they will become part of your normal routine.
An action plan is based on zones that are defined by your symptoms, your peak flow, or both. There are three zones: green, yellow, and red. Your action plan tells you what to do when you are in each zone.
Check your symptoms or your peak flow, or both, on a regular basis, and use your action plan to see what zone you are in. If you have yellow zone symptoms or if your peak flow drops below 80% of your personal best measurement, follow your action plan. To figure out what 80% of your personal best measurement is, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.80. For example, if your personal best peak flow is 400, then 80% of that is 400 times 0.80, which is 320. To figure what 50% of your personal best peak flow is, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.50.
Keep your regular follow-up appointments. During checkups, your doctor will ask if your symptoms or your peak flow, or both, have held steady, improved, or gotten worse. He or she will also ask if you have asthma symptoms during exercise or at night. This information can help your doctor know if your asthma category has changed or if you need to change medicines or doses.
When you go to your doctor:
Current as of: March 25, 2014
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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