Monitoring Your Symptoms

By Holloway, Beth, RN, M.Ed. 
October 13, 2017

Monitoring Your Symptoms

It is very important to check your asthma symptoms so that you can take action if there is a change. There are two ways to do this. Some people use a peak flow meter. The peak flow meter measures how well air is moving in your lungs. And some people keep track of small changes in their symptoms and write them down every day. Your healthcare provider will help you figure out which way is best for you and tell you what to do if your symptoms get worse.

If you use a peak flow meter, you should know your personal best reading. You should also know how to use the meter correctly, and how often you should measure your peak flow.

Man using a peak flow meter

Using your peak flow meter

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. To start, stand or sit up straight. Use the same position every time.

  2. Hold the meter and move the marker to zero or to the lowest number.

  3. Breathe in as deeply as you can.

  4. Place your lips tightly around the mouthpiece of the meter.

  5. Blow one time as hard and fast as you can.

  6. Write down the number next to the marker every time you use the meter.

Know your symptoms and what to do when you have them. Asthma zones are used to help you know what you should do.


How I feel

My symptoms

What I should do

Green zone

I feel good

  • No wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness

  • Asthma is not bothering your sleep, work, or school

  • You rarely or never use your quick-relief medicine

  • Peak flow is 80% to 100% of your personal best 

  • Keep taking your long-term controller medicines

  • Avoid asthma triggers 

Yellow zone

I don't feel good

  • Some wheezing, coughing, or chest tightness

  • When at rest, your breathing is a little faster than normal

  • Asthma symptoms wake you up at night

  • Peak flow is 50% to 80% of your personal best or has lessened by at least 15%

  • You begin to have symptoms of a respiratory infection, if infections trigger your symptoms 

  • Keep taking your long-term controller medicines

  • Use your quick-relief medicine

  • If you do not feel better within an hour after using your quick-relief medicine, make sure you know what to do. You might use more medicine or use other medicine.

  • Call your healthcare provider if you are unsure 

Red zone

I feel very bad

  • Continuous wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing

  • Asthma symptoms make it hard for you to sleep

  • Peak flow is less than 50% of your personal best 

  • Use your quick-relief medicines

  • Call your healthcare provider

  • Call 911 if it is getting harder to breathe, if you can't walk or talk, or if your lips or fingers look gray or blue


October 13, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN,Blaivas, Allen J., DO