Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

Font Size

Asthma Action Plan: Red Zone - Topic Overview

An asthma action plan is a written plan of what to do if you have an asthma attack. You are in the red zone of your asthma action plan if you have severe asthma symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Peak expiratory flow less than 50% of your personal best measurement. To find 50% of your personal best, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.50. For example, if your personal best flow is 400, then 50% of that is 400 times 0.50, which is 200. In this example, a peak expiratory flow less than 200 means you are in the red zone.
  • Any shortness of breath while walking, talking, or at rest.
  • Use of the chest muscles to breathe. The skin between, above, and under the ribs collapses inward with each breath (retractions).
  • Wheezing. But if symptoms are very severe, you may not hear any wheezing. Wheezing will stop when the amount of air moving through the bronchial tubes becomes dangerously low. In this case, no wheezing is actually worse than hearing wheezing.

Treatment for asthma attacks in the red zone includes:

Recommended Related to Asthma

Can Kids Outgrow Asthma?

The wheezing, the shortness of breath. Will it ever end? Sometimes young children have asthma-like symptoms that disappear. What they have isn't asthma. It’s a temporary condition that doesn’t turn into the lung disease, says Joyce C. Rabbat, MD. She's an assistant professor at Loyola University Medical Center’s Division of Allergy and Immunology. The wheezing is treated just like asthma, but it goes away by itself, usually by age 5 or 6. Most kids who have symptoms like wheezing and shortness...

Read the Can Kids Outgrow Asthma? article > >

  • Seeking immediate medical attention while you are following your asthma action plan.
  • Using medicine based on your asthma action plan.
  • Talking with a doctor immediately about what to do next. This is especially important if your peak expiratory flow does not return to the green zone or stays within the yellow zone.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 14, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Asthma Action Plan: Red Zone Topics

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    When Is Your Asthma Worse?

    Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

    Start Now

    Today on WebMD

    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    5 common triggers.
    group jogging in park
    Should you avoid fitness activities?
     
    asthma inhaler
    Learn about your options.
    man feeling faint
    What’s the difference?
     
    Los Angeles skyline in smog
    Slideshow
    man in a field with allergies
    Slideshow
     
    Woman holding inhaler
    VIDEO
    Slideshow Allergy Myths and Facts
    Slideshow
     

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Man outdoors coughing
    Article
    Lung and bronchial tube graphic
    Article
     
    10 Worst Asthma Cities
    Slideshow
    runner
    Article