A Complete Guide to Creating an Asthma Action Plan

Medically Reviewed By Thomas Johnson, PA-C

An asthma action plan provides guidance on how to manage your condition and when to seek help. For example, it may advise you when to use quick-relief medication. Your doctor can help you create a personal plan for you and your condition. Asthma action plans contain information about how and when to use your medication and when to seek help for worsening symptoms. The key is to use the plan’s instructions for your care and work alongside your doctor to optimize your treatment.

This article discusses asthma action plans, including what they are used for, how to create one, and the information they contain. It also provides example asthma action plans and explains how to use your plan effectively.

What is an asthma action plan?

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An asthma action plan is a personal guide that contains information about:

  • when and how to use your medications and treatments
  • how to recognize when your symptoms change or get worse
  • what to do if your symptoms worsen or if you experience an emergency

As a result, your asthma action plan will be unique to you and your condition.

The plan provides a reference point for you when caring for your asthma. This ensures your treatment is as effective as possible and you receive help if needed. An asthma action plan can help prevent asthma attacks and reduce complications.

The plan is usually a form you fill out with the help of your doctor or medical team.

Learn more about medications and treatments for asthma.

Who needs an asthma action plan?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that all people Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source with asthma need their own asthma action plan. This includes:

  • people with mild asthma
  • people who feel that their treatment is very effective
  • people who feel that they need minimal treatment or care

How do you create an asthma action plan?

You can make an asthma action plan by working with your doctor to fill out your personal details.

The process may start with your doctor suggesting an asthma action plan to you and providing you with a form. Alternatively, if your doctor hasn’t mentioned a plan yet, you can print your own and take it to your appointment.

What is in an asthma action plan?

The general information in an asthma action plan should include:

  • your asthma triggers
  • the specific names of the medications you use
  • the doses of the medications and how to take them
  • the symptoms and/or peak flow rates that may indicate your asthma is worsening
  • what treatment to take for each level of symptoms, including how and when to take quick-relief medications
  • when to contact someone for help and who to contact, such as when to call 911
  • telephone numbers or contact details for:
    • your local hospital or local emergency health services
    • your doctor or medical team
    • any caregivers
    • any other personal contacts you need to inform in an emergency

Often, asthma action plans use three traffic light color codes or zones to describe the severity of your symptoms and what you should do in each situation.

The green or “go” zone refers to when your condition meets all of the following criteria:

  • You don’t have Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source any of the following symptoms at any time:
    • coughing
    • wheezing
    • difficulty breathing
    • chest tightness
  • You can carry out all your usual activities, including sleeping through the night without symptoms.
  • When you use a peak flow meter, the peak flow rate is over 80% of your personal best peak flow rate.

Read more about using a peak flow meter for asthma.

The yellow or “caution” zone refers to when you experience any of the following criteria:

  • You are developing the first symptoms of a cold or respiratory infection.
  • You have had exposure to one of your known triggers.
  • You wake up with asthma symptoms.
  • You can’t carry out some of your usual activities.
  • Your peak flow rates are lower than 75% of your personal best peak flow rate.
  • You experience symptoms such as:

The red or “medical alert” zone refers to when you experience any of the following criteria:

  • Your quick-relief medication is not improving your symptoms.
  • You have a lot of difficulty breathing.
  • You can’t do any of your usual activities, including talking.
  • You were in the caution zone for 24 hours without getting better.
  • Your peak flow rates are lower than 50% of your best peak flow rate.

Seek immediate care from a doctor for asthma that may be in the red zone

The steps your asthma action plan recommends you take may vary per person.

However, generally, asthma in the red zone is a medical emergency. Call 911 or seek care from a doctor if your asthma is severe.

At the yellow zone, your plan may recommend you take your quick-relief medication. At the green zone, your plan may recommend continuing with your typical, daily preventive medication as usual.

How do you use an asthma action plan?

An asthma action plan works as a reference to help you know how to care for your asthma. As a result, it may be helpful to carry it with you so that you know what to do wherever you are. This is also because asthma flare-ups and attacks can be unpredictable.

Other ways to help you make the most of your asthma action plan include:

  • taking a photo or digital copy of your plan in case you lose it
  • keeping any paper copies in a safe, accessible place, such as on the fridge
  • checking it regularly, even if you feel your condition is only mild
  • contacting your doctor regularly to update your plan according to any necessary changes
  • giving copies of your plan to people you spend time with, such as:
    • family, friends, or caregivers
    • teachers
    • co-workers
    • fitness instructors

If you think your plan needs updating, contact your doctor for advice. Also, ask your doctor if you have any general questions about your treatment or your plan, such as how to take your medication.

What asthma action plans can I use?

Some asthma action plan templates you can use include:

The University of Michigan also has a list of asthma action plans in various languages, including Arabic and some Chinese languages.

Choose the plan that is the clearest and most helpful for you.

All plans are currently free to download and print. You can take one to your doctor and medical team and complete it together. Alternatively, your medical team may provide you with their own form. However, they can work with you to use whichever form you find helps you best.


An asthma action plan is a form that contains personal guidance on how to care for your asthma. Your doctor will work with you to complete your plan according to your needs and treatment. This can include information such as:

  • how and when to take your preventive and quick-relief medications
  • when to seek medical help
  • emergency contact numbers

Your doctor may provide you with an asthma action plan form. Otherwise, many forms are available online. You can take these to your doctor if they haven’t already provided you with a plan.

Contact your doctor if you have any questions about asthma action plans or your asthma.

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Medical Reviewer: Thomas Johnson, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2023 May 24
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.