As a parent, watching a child suffer from a respiratory disorder can be frightening and worrisome. Our respiratory specialists provide compassionate care for a wide-range of pediatric respiratory disorders. We also oversee one of the largest cystic fibrosis programs in the country.

We Provide Treatment for:

  • Asthma and difficult to treat asthma
  • Congenital lung problems
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Aspiration lung injury
  • Noisy breathing
  • Respiratory complications of neuromuscular disease
  • Chronic ventilatory support
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Chronic cough
  • Sleep disorders including Sleep Apnea

Contact Us

(801) 213-3599

All About Asthma in Children

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease in which the airways become sensitive to allergens (any substance that triggers an allergic reaction). Several things happen to the airways when a child is exposed to certain triggers:

  • The lining of the airways becomes swollen and inflamed

  • The muscles that surround the airways tighten

  • The production of mucus is increased, leading to mucus plugs

All of these factors will cause the airways to narrow, thus making it difficult for air to go in and out of your child's lungs and causing the symptoms of asthma.

Facts about asthma

According to the latest information available from the CDC and the EPA:

  • Approximately 25 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with asthma, with at least 7 million of them children under the age of 18.

  • Asthma is one of the leading, serious, chronic illnesses among children in the U.S.

  • Asthma accounts for millions of absences from school each year.

  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalizations of children under the age of 15.

What causes asthma?

The exact cause of asthma is not completely known. It is believed to be partially inherited, but it also involves many other environmental, infectious, and chemical factors.

After a child is exposed to a certain trigger, the body releases histamine and other agents that can cause inflammation in a child's airways. The body also releases other factors that can cause the muscles of the airways to tighten, or become smaller. There is also an increase in mucus production that may clog the airways.

Some children have exercise-induced asthma, which is caused by varying degrees of exercise. Symptoms can occur during, or shortly after, exercise. Each child has different triggers that cause the asthma to worsen. You should discuss this with your child's doctor.

The changes that occur in asthma are believed to happen in two phases:

  1. An immediate response to the trigger leads to swelling and narrowing of the airways. This makes it initially difficult for your child to breathe.

  2. A later response, which can happen four to eight hours after the initial exposure to the allergen, leads to further inflammation of the airways and obstruction of airflow.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

The following are the most common symptoms of asthma. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing. This can be either constant or intermittent.

  • Wheezing. A whistling sound that may be heard while your child is breathing.

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath while your child is playing or exercising

  • Chest tightness. Your child may say his or her chest hurts or does not feel good.

  • Fatigue

  • Nighttime cough

  • Noisy breathing

The symptoms of asthma may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.

Who is at risk for developing asthma?

Although anyone may have asthma, it most commonly occurs in:

  • Children and adolescents ages five to 17 years

  • A child with a family history of asthma

  • Children who have allergies

  • Children who have exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke

What happens during an asthma attack or asthma exacerbation?

Children with asthma have acute episodes when the air passages in their lungs become narrower, and breathing becomes more difficult. These problems are caused by an oversensitivity of the lungs and airways:

  • The lungs and airways overreact to certain triggers causing:

    • The lining of the airways to become inflamed and swollen

    • Tightening of the muscles that surround the airways

    • An increased production of mucus

  • Breathing becomes harder and may hurt

  • There may be coughing

  • There may be a wheezing or whistling sound, which is typical of asthma. Wheezing occurs because of the rush of air that moves through the narrowed airways.

How is asthma diagnosed?

To diagnose asthma and distinguish it from other lung disorders, doctors rely on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests, which may include:

  • Spirometry. A spirometer is a device used by your child's doctor that assesses lung function. Spirometry can be done in young children and has been done in infants. Spirometry, the evaluation of lung function with a spirometer, is one of the simplest, most common pulmonary function tests and may be necessary for any or all of the following reasons:

    • To determine how well the lungs receive, hold, and utilize air

    • To monitor a lung disease

    • To monitor the effectiveness of treatment

    • To determine the severity of a lung disease

    • To determine whether the lung disease is restrictive (decreased airflow) or obstructive (disruption of airflow)

  • Peak flow monitoring (PFM). A device used to measure the amount of air a person can blow out of the lungs. During an asthma or other respiratory flare-up, the large airways in the lungs slowly begin to narrow. This will slow the speed of air leaving the lungs and can be measured by a PFM. This measurement is very important in evaluating how well or how poorly the disease is being controlled.

  • Chest X-rays. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

  • Blood tests. These tests analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.

  • Allergy tests

General Pulmonary Clinic

Includes inpatient and outpatient consultations for asthma, chronic cough, dyspnea, recurrent pneumonia, persistent abnormal chest radiography, and noisy breathing.

Asthma Clinic

Offers a comprehensive evaluation for children with a diagnosis of asthma. This evaluation typically includes pulmonary function testing, ancillary laboratory studies as indicated, specific recommendations for treatment, and a detailed home asthma action plan. Asthma education for parents and patients (including pathogenesis of asthma, rationale for treatment, inhaler/spacer technique training, and home management plans) is integrated into the clinic visits.

Cystic Fibrosis Clinic

Intermountain Cystic Fibrosis Center clinic at PCMH is a multi-disciplinary clinic designed to provide comprehensive cystic fibrosis care for the pediatric patient. This is the only Cystic Fibrosis Foundation accredited site for pediatric CF care in Utah. Adult CF care is offered at the University of Utah. This clinic is intended for patients with a confirmed diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis or CFTR Related Metabolic Syndrome. Patients who do not have a confirmed diagnosis of cystic fibrosis should have testing ordered by their physician to assure that this is the appropriate clinic to be seen.

This Cystic Fibrosis Center Clinic Staff includes Pediatric Pulmonology, Pediatric Gastroenterology, clinical nurse coordination, registered dietitian, respiratory therapist, medical social work, and access to clinical research protocols. To schedule a clinic appointment call 801-213-3599 or 801-662-1765. Patients <6 months of age are seen monthly. Patients >6 months<12 months are seen every two months. Patients over 12 months of age are seen every 3 months.

Patients who have not been seen or had spectrum cultures in the past 3 months will be asked to schedule during an appointment time reserved for patients with multiply resistant organism. Patients with multiple resistant organisms (MRSA, B. Cepacia, Multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa) will be scheduled at times specifically reserved for patients with multiple resistant organisms.

Patients <24 months of age who have been identified through newborn screening will be seen in the Newborn Screening Clinic unless specifically requested to do otherwise.

Tracheostomy Ventilator Dependent Clinic:

A multidisciplinary clinic conducted once a month at Primary Children’s Hospital. This clinic is intended for patients who require optimization of tracheostomy and ventilator support, as well as weaning off respiratory support. Patients are managed cooperatively by pulmonologists, ENT/otolaryngologists, and Comprehensive Care/Rehabilitation Medicine.  A social worker and a respiratory therapist are integral members of the team. Patients are seen by referral only, in this clinic. Please have your physician arrange for a clinic visit by calling the tracheostomy ventilator program coordinator at (801) 662-2691.

Sleep Clinic

Contact Us

(801) 213-3599

In order to facilitate a timely visit for general pulmonary clinic and asthma clinic, please see and comply with the following:

  • Arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.
  • Send or bring a referral to your clinic visit.
  • Bring a disk of any chest X ray imaging performed at facilities outside of Intermountain Healthcare.
  • Bring all of your child’s medications with you to clinic.

What to expect when you come for a CF Clinic

Patients new to the CF clinic are encouraged to provide copies of previous clinical notes, sweat chloride testing, genetic testing, lung function testing, microbiology and clinical laboratory testing prior to their first visit. This allows familiarization with the patient’s specific needs prior to be seen.

Patients seen in this clinic are directly sent to clinic exam rooms and are discouraged from waiting in common areas. It is important to arrive at your scheduled time to minimize possible contact of CF patients entering or leaving the clinic. The multidisciplinary team will see the patient in the exam room and be wearing gowns, gloves and if appropriate masks.

What is a sweat test or genetic testing?

A doctor who sees the symptoms of CF will order a sweat test or a genetic test to confirm the diagnosis. A sweat test is the most common test used to diagnose cystic fibrosis and is considered the diagnostic "gold standard." A small electrode is placed on the skin (usually on the arm) to stimulate the sweat glands. Sweat is then collected and the amount of chloride, a component of salt in the sweat, is measured. A high level of chloride means that the person has cystic fibrosis.

To schedule sweat chloride tests, call the Primary Children's Outpatient Laboratory at (801) 662-2122 Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Tests are performed by appointment Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

What to bring to bring for Tracheostomy Ventilator Clinic

Patients are required to bring their ventilator, spare tracheostomy tubes, suction apparatus, oximeter and portable oxygen with them to clinic. If feedings will need to be administered during the visit, please bring necessary feeding pumps and formula.

If your child has received medical care outside of Primary Children’s Hospital, please bring copies of medical records. Reports of laboratory tests and X-rays performed at a different hospital are very helpful and should be brought. We encourage all care providers for the child, including any home care nurse to attend the clinic. Clinic visits can take 3-4 hours, so please plan your schedule accordingly.

Contact Us

(801) 213-3599

Fadi Asfour, M.D., M.B.B.S.

Dr. Asfour received his medical degree from Jordan University of Science and Technology Faculty of Medicine, completed his pediatric residency at The Women and Children´s Hospital of Buffalo, and his pediatric Pulmonary Fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Dr. Asfour is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric pulmonology. Dr. Asfo... Read More


Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Pediatric Pulmonary Care


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599

Barbara A. Chatfield, M.D.

Dr. Chatfield received her medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed her pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonary fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado. Upon completion of fellowship training, she completed a four year active duty tour wi... Read More

Brian M. McGinley, M.D.

Dr. McGinley received his medical degree from the Ohio State University School of Medicine, completed his Pediatric residency and Sleep Medicine fellowship at Tulane University, and his Pediatric Pulmonary Fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. He was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University for 8 years. Dr. McGinley is board-certified in Pediat... Read More

Britta T. Schaer, P.A.

Britta Schaer received her Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Utah, School of Medicine. She is a NCCPA board certified physician assistant. Prior to joining the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at Primary Children´s Medical Center as a physician assistant, she spent nearly 10 years practicing a... Read More

Chee Chun Tan, M.D.

Dr. Chee C. Tan received his medical degree from University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and completed his pediatric residency at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York. He completed both his Pediatric Pulmonary Fellowship and Sleep Medicine Fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He also has a Master of Science degre... Read More


Pediatric Pulmonary Care, Pediatric Sleep Medicine


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building (801) 213-3599
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton (801) 213-3599

Derek A. Uchida, M.D.

Dr. Derek A. Uchida received his undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii and his medical degree from Stanford. He completed his pediatric residency and pediatric pulmonology fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Prior to his arrival at the University of Utah in 1995, he was on the faculty at The Children’s Hos... Read More

Eccles Primary Children's Outpatient Services 81 N. Mario Capecchi Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84113
(801) 662-1000
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton 3773 West 12600 South
Riverton, UT 84065
(801) 213-3599