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Your COPD Action Plan

Have you ever had a day when you were coughing more than usual? Or you just had less energy? These can signal a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) flare-up. By recognizing signs of trouble, you can prevent serious problems. A COPD action plan can help—it tells you exactly what to do when your symptoms act up.

What's an action plan?

An action plan is a written document created by you and your doctor. It lists the symptoms you may have and tells you what to do. This action plan from the American Lung Association (ALA) addresses three "zones":

Green zone 

  • No unusual symptoms

Continue to take your medicines and engage in activities your doctor has approved, such as regular exercise.

Yellow zone 

  • Your symptoms are worse than usual

  • Tells you signs of trouble to watch for, such as thicker mucus or coughing more than usual

Use quick-relief medicines and take other steps so your symptoms don't get any worse.

Red zone

  • Your symptoms are severe

  • Tells you signs of a serious problem, such as breathlessness, fever, or coughing up excessive mucus or blood

Call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital emergency room.

You can get "My COPD Action/Management Plan" form by going to the ALA website. Why not ask your doctor to fill it out with you at your next visit? Having a written plan will give you the green light for peace of mind.