Stuck in the Yellow
I have written all about asthma action plans in the past and really stressed their importance. If you are unfamiliar with what an asthma action plan is, it’s a written plan that outlines all about your specific asthma and how to manage it.
Types of asthma action plans
There are 3 separate “zones” within your plan- green, yellow, and red.
- The green zone has your regular asthma medications that you take every day listed. If you track your peak flow readings, your personal best number will be at the top and everything 80% or higher of your personal best is in the green zone.
- The yellow zone will tell you what to do (what medications to increase/start) when your asthma is starting to flare up. The peak flow in this zone is between 50-80% of your personal best.
- The red zone is when your asthma is actively flaring up and your peak flow is 50% or less than your personal best. This is when you need to seek medical attention immediately.
The great thing about asthma action plans is that it has everything written down specifically for you and it takes out any guesswork. You may know in your head what you are supposed to do when your asthma is flaring, but when it is actually happening and you're struggling to breathe it is easy to forget. Even being a Respiratory Therapist where lungs and asthma are literally my life, I will still refer to my action plan when my asthma is flaring up.
What happens when my asthma action plan is stuck in the yellow?
While I can only speak for myself, I am pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has found myself stuck in that yellow zone for an extended period of time. Certain times of the year, prolonged exposure to triggers and illnesses are especially bad for my asthma and can land me in the yellow zone for a longer time than normal.
Sometimes no matter how careful I am and staying on top of my asthma medications, I can’t get back into the green zone easily. And it is SUPER FRUSTRATING!! We feel like we are doing everything we can and should be doing but it isn't enough to give us that bump up to the green. It can lead to frustration and stress which can hinder feeling better and actually make asthma worse.
How do I get my asthma action plan in the green zone?
When in the yellow zone and you are unable to get yourself out of it, be sure to keep in contact with your doctor. Let him/her know what is going on and how you are feeling. They might prescribe some oral steroids for a short period of time or increase one of your other medications other than what is outlined in your action plan and have you come into their office to be seen.
Be sure to take it easy as much as possible and try to avoid your triggers. Be prepared if you must go out and wear a mask if you will be exposed to your triggers and don't forget your rescue inhaler! Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. People underestimate the importance of keeping on top of your fluids, especially when you aren't feeling your best.
If you have been in the yellow and find yourself slipping down to the red zone, be sure to seek medical attention immediately! Just like a stoplight, the yellow zone is like the yellow light. Be sure to slow down and proceed with caution. Know what to do and when to do it when it comes to taking your medications and avoiding triggers as much as possible.
Fingers crossed after not too long, you'll be back up in the green zone and feeling better!
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?