For asthma sufferers, monitoring your asthma is of absolute importance for living a happy healthy life and not letting asthma get in your way. Proper monitoring is also essential in helping avoid an asthma attack. But where do you even start? We asked Exhale’s resident Allergist Dr. Detjen, M.D. for advice and he gave us these tips for identifying asthma symptoms.

Asthma attack

Trying to prevent an asthma attack requires careful monitoring of your asthma symptoms.

Monitoring your asthma is absolutely essential!

Symptom frequency is the best parameter for monitoring your asthma. To keep asthma under control, symptoms should be infrequent–the less they happen the better. One of the best tools to monitor your asthma is the peak flow meter, because it can help you keep tabs on your asthma, and can serve as an early warning sign for worsening asthma (before you start to feel major symptoms).

Asthma Breathing Test, Peak Flow Meter

You know, this trusty old guy.

Each patient has an “ideal” peak flow rate based on their height and gender (your doctor will help you identify it). Green zone readings are within normal range. The yellow and red zones represent a peak flow of less than 80% and less than 50% of predicted peak flow, respectively.

Staying in ‘the zone’

The green zone. This is the safe zone, corresponding with a peak flow of greater than 80%. This is where you want to be.

The yellow zone. This means you are achieving between 50% and 80% of your “best” predicted peak flow rate. This may suggest that your asthma is only partially controlled and that your medications may need to be altered.

The red zone. The red zone is where you are achieving less than 50% of your “ideal” peak flow rate. This suggests that a moderate to severe attack has begun and symptoms either have started or will start shortly. If you are in the red zone, now is the time to consult your asthma plan and take appropriate steps to diffuse your symptoms.

Peak flow rating is not the only sign of an impending asthma attack, below are some more indications that you may be experiencing (or about to experience) and asthma attack.

Signs of a Severe Asthma Attack:

  • Inability to say more than a few words between breaths.
  • Peak flow reading in the red zone.
  • Incessant coughing and/or high-pitched wheezing.
  • Marked shortness of breath.
  • High heart rate (over 100/minute, or breaths more than 40/minute).
  • Over-inflated chest with visible spaces between ribs.
  • Tendency to lean forward with shoulders held high.

Thanks for following along during this quick, informative post on the ‘zones’ of your asthma and how to spot an attack. We hope you won’t need any of the information about an asthma attack–but if you do, make sure that you  (and your child) knows how to identify these signs.

Also, while we’re on the topic of childhood asthma. Have you checked out our recently released eBook? It’s called, “What Every Mom Should Know About Childhood Asthma.” Sign up to our eNewsletter and get your copy today! Also, stay tuned to next article in this series on asthma.

Want to share your asthma or allergy story? Share your family’s journey updates with us across social media! Find us on Twitter @ExhaleWithUs and on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!

Dr Paul Detjen
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  • Sharon Wilson-Smith

    I never knew that it will be beneficial to visit a physician to get help in identifying the ideal peak flow of every asthma patient which can help to monitor asthma attacks. My son has asthma. Since he loves doing different activities, it’s important for me to be aware when his asthma is going to attack so I can be prepared. More so, it’s crucial for me to find a treatment for my son so he won’t have to be restricted in doing his passion for outdoor activities. I will make sure to visit a physician with my son as soon as possible to get help.

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