Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma
Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma
How to take charge of your asthma
Follow your asthma action plan
- Take your daily medicines as prescribed. This
can keep asthma under control and help you avoid asthma attacks.
- Keep your treatment goals in mind. This may help you stay on
- Review your list of triggers. Avoiding triggers
can help reduce the chance that you will have an asthma attack.
Check your peak flow
- Use your peak flow meter. This is the best way
to check how well your lungs are working, which is called lung function. Your
lung function can get worse without causing symptoms.
- Check your
peak flow as often as your doctor tells you to. For many people this is twice a
day, morning and evening.
- If you have trouble using your meter,
talk to your doctor.
Know your asthma zones
Each time you measure your peak flow, check your action plan to see what
zone you are in. 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
- Green means Go. You are
green zone if your peak flow is 80% to 100% of your
personal best measurement.
- This is where you want to be. Keep taking
your daily asthma medicines as prescribed.
- Yellow means Caution. You
are in the
yellow zone if your peak flow is 50% to 79% of your
personal best measurement. You may not have any symptoms, but your lung
function is reduced. When symptoms are present, you may cough, wheeze, or feel
short of breath. Or your asthma may limit your activities or wake you up at
- You should take action. Your action plan
will tell you what medicines you need to take, how much to take, and when to
take them. If you keep going into the yellow zone from the green zone, talk
with your doctor. You may need a different medicine or the dose of your
medicine may need to be increased.
- Red means STOP. You are
red zone if your peak flow is less than 50% of your personal best
measurement. You may be very short of breath. Or the quick-relief medicines may
not have worked. This is dangerous.
- Take the actions listed in your action
plan. You may need to go to the emergency room or be admitted to the
Use your asthma diary
- Write down your peak flow readings in the
- If you have an attack, write down what caused it
(if you know), the symptoms, and what medicine you took.
See your doctor to review your plan
Keep your regular follow-up appointments. During
checkups, your doctor will ask if your symptoms and peak flow have held steady,
improved, or gotten worse. He or she will also ask if you have asthma attacks
during exercise or at night. Your doctor may want to see how you use your peak
flow meter and inhaler. 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:
- Take your asthma action plan and your asthma
diary, if you have one. Get answers to any questions you may have about your
asthma plans or your symptoms. Let your doctor know if treatment is not
controlling your asthma symptoms.
- Take your peak flow meter and
medicines so your doctor can review your treatment and the way you use the
meter and medicines.
- Make sure you know how and when to call your
doctor or go to the hospital.
- Tell your doctor if you are having
trouble following your action plan.
Test Your Knowledge
If you are following your action plan and using your
treatment, you don't need to see your doctor for follow-up appointments.
Continue to Where to go from here
Return to Asthma: Taking Charge of Your Asthma
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
February 13, 2011
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