How to Monitor Asthma for Better Control

In order to monitor your asthma, you need to track and record your asthma symptoms on a regular basis. Monitoring asthma is an important part of your overall asthma plan. In business, there is an adage that "that which cannot be measured cannot be changed." Your asthma is no different, and monitoring asthma symptoms is a very important part of your overall asthma action plan. You can monitor asthma in two ways: peak flow and symptoms

Young woman using peak flow meter, young man assessing results
Cultura Exclusive / Matt Lincoln / Getty Images

Multiple studies have shown that monitoring asthma regularly is associated with:

  • Increased use of controller medications
  • Decreased asthma exacerbations
  • Decreased emergency room visits

6 Essential Steps to Monitoring Asthma

  1. Make sure you have an asthma action plan. This is essential to controlling your asthma. Asthma care plans are developed with your healthcare provider and are a roadmap for how your asthma is doing. Based on your monitoring, you may make changes in your medication use.
  2. Record your symptoms. Depending on the type of action plan you and your healthcare provider develop, you may want to record asthma symptoms, peak flow, or both. You can use a form to record daily symptoms and triggers. Additionally, the form can be printed to record symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and chronic cough. Additionally, you can record how often you use your medication. If you have an iPhone, you can use AsthmaMD or Asthma Journal to monitor asthma efficiently.
  3. Record your PEFs. Using your peak flow meter, track your peak flow over time. If you and your healthcare provider agreed this is an important part of your asthma monitoring, this simple test can give you powerful information about your asthma control.
  4. Look for changes in asthma symptoms and peak flow. When you experience drops in your peak flow or increases in asthma symptoms, closely follow your asthma action plan. Prompt action based on your asthma action plan may prevent a healthcare provider or ER visit.
    Be a detective. If you are dropping onto your yellow or red zone, look back at your asthma diary and ask yourself these questions:
    Do I see any patterns that might explain symptoms or drops in peak flow?
  5. Did I miss taking my medication?
  6. Could I have been exposed to triggers that I was unaware of?
  7. Did I have symptoms following exercise?
  8. Keep your diary with you. Your diary is not helpful if you forget it at home. When preparing for your next healthcare provider visit, make sure you bring your asthma diary with you to discuss it with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can review your diary with you and come up with changes to improve your asthma.
3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hodkinson A, Bower P, Grigoroglou C, et al. Self-management interventions to reduce healthcare use and improve quality of life among patients with asthma: systematic review and network meta-analysisBMJ. 2020;370:m2521. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2521

  2. Quirt J, Hildebrand KJ, Mazza J, Noya F, Kim H. Asthma. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2018;14(Suppl 2):50. doi:10.1186/s13223-018-0279-0

  3. Okupa AY, Sorkness CA, Mauger DT, Jackson DJ, Lemanske RF. Daily diaries vs retrospective questionnaires to assess asthma control and therapeutic responses in asthma clinical trials: is participant burden worth the effort?. Chest. 2013;143(4):993-999. doi:10.1378/chest.12-1055

Additional Reading

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.