Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

How to Understand Your Child's Asthma Action Plan

When your child has asthma, it's natural to worry if he's in serious trouble or just needs a tweak to his medicine. That's where an action plan can help. It lays out the symptoms you should watch for and the steps to take to get his breathing under control.

Your child's doctor will help you create a plan that's right for him. Most use a simple system that's set up like a traffic light: green for "go," yellow for "caution," and red for "stop -- danger!" See how your child fits into each color zone and you'll know how to respond.

Recommended Related to Asthma

Hypoxia and Hypoxemia

When your body doesn't have enough oxygen, you could get hypoxemia or hypoxia. These are dangerous conditions. Without oxygen, your brain, liver, and other organs can be damaged just minutes after symptoms start. Hypoxemia (low oxygen in your blood) can cause hypoxia (low oxygen in your tissues) when your blood doesn't carry enough oxygen to your tissues to meet your body's needs. The word hypoxia is sometimes used to describe both problems.

Read the Hypoxia and Hypoxemia article > >

In the past, doctors had children breathe into a tube called a "peak flow meter" to measure how much air they put out. These days, many doctors instead ask you to watch your child's behavior and look for specific signs to see which zone he's in.

The Green Zone

This is the best spot for your child. You'll know he's in the green zone when he:

  • Is breathing easy
  • Isn't coughing or wheezing
  • Can do his regular activities
  • Sleeps through the night

If you can say "yes" to those four items, he's doing well. No need to hold him back from his usual routine. Let him enjoy school activities and playtime, too.

Keep up his regular medication. Your doctor may refer to this as "controller" medicine because it keeps his asthma in check over the long haul. Make sure you follow the instructions for the dose and when to take it.

The Yellow Zone

Think of this category as a big yellow "caution" sign. You'll know your child belongs there when he:

  • Coughs
  • Looks like he's short of breath
  • Wheezes
  • Has some trouble doing his usual activities
  • Has a tight feeling in his chest
  • Wakes up at night with breathing problems

If he has some or all of those, make sure he's taking his regular treatment.

Your doctor will also ask you to add medications that give quick relief to your child's symptoms. He may call these "rescue" medicines.

What happens if the medications don't help? It depends on your plan. Your doctor may tell you to repeat the doses or call his office. Either way, keep in mind that your goal is to get your child back in the green zone.

Next Article:

Which asthma symptom bothers your child the most?