COPD Action Plan


Knowing how to treat your COPD can help you feel better and give you peace of mind. This is true for everyday care and for when your symptoms get worse.

When your symptoms suddenly get much worse, it's called a COPD exacerbation, or a flare-up. Quick treatment at home may help you manage a flare-up. Having an action plan can help you be prepared.

It's also important that your family, friends, and caregivers know what to do when your symptoms get worse. If you can't care for yourself in an emergency, others need to know how they can help you.

How to use an action plan

  • Fill out this action plan with your doctor.
  • Keep a copy of your plan where others can find it, such as on your fridge or in another handy place.
  • If you use a metered-dose inhaler, keep these instructions handy so someone else will know how it's used if you need help.
  • Know when to call your doctor or get medical help right away. As you know, COPD can cause serious breathing problems, so it's important to know when to get help.

My COPD action plan

Name of my doctor or clinic:



Who to call in an emergency:


Green Zone: Feeling well

  • Usual amount of coughing and mucus
  • Able to do normal activities
  • Have a good appetite
  • Sleeping well
  • Take daily medicines for COPD.
  • Eat well and get regular exercise.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke and other triggers, such as air pollution.
  • Use oxygen as my doctor recommends.
  • Do breathing exercises to improve airflow and help keep my lungs clear.
  • Find ways to conserve energy.
  • Other recommendations from my doctor:


Yellow Zone: Flare-up

  • New or worse trouble breathing (shortness of breath or wheezing)
  • More mucus than normal
  • Coughing more than usual, with or without mucus
  • Medicines not helping symptoms
  • Using quick-relief medicines more often
  • Have a fever
  • Have less energy than usual
  • Not sleeping well
  • Chest feels tight
  • Feeling less hungry than usual
  • Have more swelling in legs than usual
  • Other symptoms:
  • Stay calm and don't panic.
  • Take quick-relief medicines as directed by my doctor.
  • Keep taking daily medicines.
  • Take other medicines (such as corticosteroids or antibiotics) as directed by my doctor.
  • Use oxygen as recommended by my doctor.
  • Try doing pursed-lip breathing.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke and other triggers, such as air pollution.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Call the doctor right away if my symptoms don't get better.
  • Other recommendations from my doctor:

If I have these symptoms, I need this medicine (type and name):

I take this much, up to this maximum dose:

Normal dose: _______ Max dose: _______

Red Zone: Get medical care right away

  • Can't do activity because of trouble breathing
  • Shortness of breath is severe even while resting
  • Have a fever with shaking and chills
  • Coughing up blood, or dark brown or bloody mucus
  • Have chest pain
  • Cannot sleep because of trouble breathing
  • Feel very sleepy or confused
  • Other symptoms:



  • Call 911 or get medical care right away.
  • While I'm getting help, take the following actions as directed by my doctor:



If I have these symptoms, I need this medicine (type and name):

I take this much, up to this maximum dose:

Normal dose: _______ Max dose: _______


Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Hasmeena Kathuria MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

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