Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD

An Asthma Action Plan is a written, customized plan to help you take action to manage your asthma. If you know what to watch for and what steps to take, you will be able to make timely and appropriate decisions about managing your condition help prevent your asthma from getting worse. The Action Plan is based on changes in asthma symptoms. Peak flow monitoring can also be used as part of the asthma action plan.


The asthma action plan will:

  • Give you and your family information about when and how to use daily medications, emergency medications and your peak flow meter.
  • Help you decide when to call your health care provider and when to seek emergency medical care.
  • Serve as an easy place to keep your crisis intervention plan, self-management instructions or written guidelines.

View an example Asthma Action Plan (pdf).


Components of an Asthma Action Plan

Action Plans should be individualized. Your health care provider will develop an Action Plan for you, and your action plan should include the following information:

  • Asthma Symptoms
    Your action plan should tell you what to do when you experience asthma symptoms and when you need to increase treatments to manage asthma symptoms. Your plan will be based on the severity or seriousness of these symptoms.

  • Peak Flow Numbers and Peak Flow Zones
    Your asthma action plan may include use of a peak flow meter. Peak flow numbers measure how well you are breathing. If your peak flow number drops, it means you are having trouble breathing. Peak flow zones can be used to signal you when your peak flow drops a certain percentage. Your health care provider will consider certain characteristics of your asthma and help you determine your zones.

  • Asthma Medications
    Together with your health care provider, you will develop instructions about when to take asthma medications.

  • Emergency Telephone Numbers and Locations of Emergency Care
    Your written action plan should include information about who to call and where to get emergency care. Your health care provider will be able to give you telephone numbers and locations for emergency care during the day or night. You should also include numbers of relatives, friends and other people who can help you in an emergency.


Specific Points to Clarify With Your Health Care Provider

These are five points that your health care provider should specifically clarify for you for inclusion in your Action Plan.

  • When should you call your health care provider?
  • When should you seek emergency care?
  • When is quick relief medicine not enough?
  • When or if you should increase inhaled steroids?
  • When or if you should start taking oral steroids?

Making Your Asthma Action Plan Work for You

Your Action Plan can help you manage your asthma symptoms. Here are tips to make sure it's available and update for you to use:

  • Photocopy your written plan and give it to those who can assist you in using the plan, including your spouse or significant other, relatives and work personnel.

  • Keep a current action plan with you at all times for use in an emergency.

  • Review your action plan with your health care provider at least once a year. Changes in your personal best or baseline peak flow number or medications may mean your action plan also needs to be changed.

  • If you ever have questions or concerns about your Action Plan, please discuss them with your health care provider.

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