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Asthma Health Center

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Emergency Asthma Treatment

Asthma and Peak Flow Meters

Learning how to monitor your asthma will help you know when to seek asthma emergency treatment. Taking regular peak flow meter readings is often the foundation of good asthma control. You can do this at home. A peak flow meter is a simple handheld device. By breathing into it, you get a reading of your lung function.

When you are first diagnosed with asthma, your doctor will probably tell you to take peak flow meter readings every day for two to three weeks. The highest number you record is called your "personal best."

Many asthma action plans are based on peak flow readings. Depending on your readings, you will take a different course of action.

Emergencies and Your Asthma Action Plan

You and your doctor need to create an asthma action plan that details what to do when you are in different zones -- green, yellow, or red:

  • Green zone: You are free of symptoms and can do your usual activities. Peak flow readings are 80% to 100% of your personal best. You're doing well. If you use daily control medicine, you should take it as usual.
  • Yellow zone: You have symptoms of asthma. Or your peak flow readings are between 50% and 80% of your personal best. Your asthma is worsening. You may need medicine to prevent a more serious asthma attack.
  • Red zone: You have symptoms of an asthma emergency. Peak flow readings are 50% or lower of your personal best. You are having a severe attack and need asthma emergency treatment.

Most important, your written asthma action plan spells out what you should do in an asthma emergency.

Since every person's asthma is different, you need to have a custom-tailored asthma emergency treatment plan.

Your plan might include the following steps:

  • Use your emergency inhaler as prescribed.
  • Take a peak flow reading if you can.
  • Get to an emergency room or call 911.

Don't delay. Waiting too long to get asthma emergency treatment can be deadly.

An asthma action plan should also include:

  • Your name
  • The name and number of your family doctor
  • The name and number of your local hospital
  • Your personal best peak flow meter reading
  • A list of your asthma triggers
  • A list of asthma symptoms
  • The names and doses of your medications

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

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