Childhood Asthma Action Plan

Asthma Action Plan article - Masterfile

Every asthma action plan should address the daily management of symptoms and how to recognize and handle worsening asthma problems, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Each plan should be divided into three parts, or zones, which correspond to the percent of peak airflow and the symptoms you or your child with asthma is experiencing. (A peak flow meter can be used on children who are at least four to five years of age.) For younger children, you need to rely on symptoms as a guide to action.

  • Green zone—This is where your child should be every day. It means that he or she has 80 percent or greater peak airflow and no limitations on activities. An at-home (and at-school) peak-flow meter can provide this information. A child in the green zone who is prescribed long-term controller medications should continue taking them.
  • Yellow zone—A child in this zone has between 50 percent and 79 percent peak airflow and experiences some asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing or breathing difficulties. This zone calls for fast-acting (rescue) medication as well as for continuing long-term controller medications, as prescribed. Make sure the doctor writes out steps to take if symptoms continue after using the rescue medicine: These may involve adding an oral steroid and calling the doctor.
  • Red zone—This signifies a medical alert. Your child has only 50 percent peak airflow, is experiencing severe symptoms and may be very short of breath. Usually the action plan requires that he or she take fast-acting (rescue) medication, that you immediately call the doctor, and that if your child does not quickly improve, you seek treatment at an emergency room. This is not a time to wait and see what happens.

Publication Review By: Raymond Slavin, M.D.; Derek Johnson, M.D. for MDminute™

Published: 30 Sep 2009

Last Modified: 10 Oct 2014