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Asthma Action Plan: Yellow Zone

Topic Overview

An asthma action plan is based on zones defined by your symptoms or your peak flow, or both. It tells you what to do if you have a sudden increase in your asthma symptoms (asthma attack).

The yellow zone may mean that you are having an asthma attack or that your medicine needs to be increased.

When symptoms are present, they may be mild to moderate, or they may keep you from your usual activities or disturb your sleep. Symptoms can include:

  • Coughing and wheezing.
  • Feeling short of breath and having chest tightness. (Children may express chest tightness as a stomach ache.)
  • Having a cold or allergies can make asthma symptoms worse.

In the yellow zone, your peak expiratory flow is 60% to 85% of your personal best measurement. To find 85% of your personal best, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.85. For example, if your personal best flow is 400, then 85% of that is 400 times 0.85, which is 340. And 60% of your personal best would be 400 times 0.60, which is 240. In this example, the yellow zone would be any value from 240 to 340. You may not have any symptoms, but your lung function is reduced. When symptoms are present, they may be mild to moderate, or they may keep you from your usual activities or disturb your sleep.

Treatment for symptoms in the yellow zone includes the following:

  • Take your medicine according to your asthma action plan.
  • If symptoms do not improve within 20 to 60 minutes and/or your peak expiratory flow remains less than 70% of your personal best measurement, follow the red zone instructions of your asthma action plan, because your lungs are not responding to medicine.

If you keep going into the yellow zone from the green zone, talk with your doctor. Your regular medicine may need to be changed.

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Credits

Adaptation Date: 8/4/2020

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.