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

Asthma in Children

What is asthma in children?

Asthma is a long-term (chronic) lung disease that causes your child's airways to become sensitive to certain things (triggers). Several things happen to the airways when a child is exposed to triggers:

  • The lining around the airways swell.
  • The muscles around the airways tighten.
  • The airways make more thick mucus than normal.

All of these things will cause the airways to narrow. This makes it difficult for air to go in and out of your child’s lungs and causes the symptoms of asthma.

What causes asthma in a child?

The exact cause of asthma is not known. Researchers think it is partially passed down through families. But it can also be caused by many other things such as the environment, infections, and chemicals.

Which children are at risk for asthma?

A child is more likely to get asthma if he or she:

  • Is age 5 to 17 years old
  • Has family members with asthma
  • Has allergies
  • Is around tobacco smoke
  • Is around air pollution
  • Has another health problem such as sinus problems and being overweight

What are the symptoms of asthma in a child?

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. Children with asthma have times when they have few, if any symptoms. They also have times when symptoms flare up. Symptoms may include:

  • Cough that is either constant or comes and goes
  • Wheezing or whistling sound that is heard while your child is breathing
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath while your child is active
  • Chest tightness
  • Tiredness
  • Cough at night
  • Noisy breathing

The symptoms of asthma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is asthma diagnosed in a child?

To diagnose asthma, your child’s healthcare provider may recommend these tests:

  • Spirometry. A spirometer is a device used to check lung function. It can be done in young children, including infants. 
  • Peak flow monitoring. A peak flow meter is used to measure the amount of air a child can blow out of the lungs. This measurement is very important in checking how well your child’s asthma is being controlled.
  • Chest X-rays. This diagnostic test uses invisible energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
  • Allergy tests. Allergy tests can show if your child has allergies that may be causing or worsening asthma.

How is asthma treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Your child’s healthcare provider may refer you to a pulmonologist. This is a doctor with special training to treat lung conditions. Your child may also be referred to an asthma and allergy specialist. Your child’s treatment is based on how severe his or her symptoms are and how easily they are controlled. Treatment includes finding triggers and ways to avoid them. It will also include medicines.

Asthma medicines include:

  • Bronchodilators. These medicines are used to help open the narrowed airways. They may relieve coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines. These medicines help decrease the inflammation in the airways.
  • Anti-leukotrienes. These medicines help decrease the narrowing of the airways. These are usually given by mouth.
  • Immunotherapy. This can be used for severe asthma attacks in children ages 12 and older.

What are the complications of asthma in a child?

Asthma that is not well controlled may cause:

  • Severe asthma attacks
  • Lasting damage to the airways
  • Increased time in the hospital or the emergency department
  • Missed school or other activities

What can I do to prevent asthma in my child?

Asthma can’t be completely prevented. There are steps you can take to reduce the chance of your child developing asthma. They include:

  • Avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Avoiding air pollution

In most children, asthma flare-ups can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding known triggers
  • Carefully managing symptoms
  • Taking medicines as instructed

How can I help my child live with asthma?

You can help manage your child’s asthma by:

  • Finding out your child’s triggers and keeping him or her away from them.
  • Giving your child medicine as directed to prevent symptoms.
  • Creating and keeping an Asthma Action Plan.
  • Closely watching asthma signs and symptoms to know when they are getting worse.
  • Knowing what to do when asthma gets worse.

Work with your child’s healthcare provider to find the best way to take care of your child’s asthma. There are guidelines for children from newborn to age 4, ages 5 to 11, and ages 12 and older.

The more information a person with asthma has, the better the asthma can be controlled.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child’s symptoms are not well-controlled. For example, your child is waking at night with symptoms or is having trouble with daily activities.

Call your child’s healthcare provider or get medical help right away if your child has severe symptoms. These severe symptoms can include trouble:

  • Breathing
  • Sleeping
  • Walking
  • Talking

Key points about asthma in children

  • Asthma is a long-term (chronic) lung disease that causes the airways to swell and make more mucus, and the muscles around the airways to tighten.
  • Asthma symptoms include trouble breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing.
  • Staying away from those things that cause asthma symptoms (triggers) is an important part of asthma treatment.
  • Medicines are used to prevent and control symptoms during flare-ups.
  • Asthma can cause serious complications if it is not well-controlled.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

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 PCH 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 University of Utah Health. 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 fewer than six months of age are seen monthly.
  • Patients older than six months but less than 12 months are seen every two months.
  • Patients over 12 months of age are seen every three months.

Patients who have not been seen or had spectrum cultures in the past three 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 fewer than 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

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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 am and 6 pm. Tests are performed by appointment Monday through Friday between 8 am and 4 pm.

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 three to four hours, so please plan your schedule accordingly.

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Fadi Asfour, MD, MBBS

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. Asfour... Read More


Aerodigestive Disorders, Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Pediatric Pulmonary Care


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building 801-213-3599

Khanh Lai, MD

Dr. Khanh Lai received her medical degree from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, and completed her Pediatric residency and Pediatric Pulmonology fellowship at UC Irvine.  She is presently board eligible in Pediatric Pulmonology.She is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah and is in the Division of Ped... Read More

Brian M. McGinley, MD

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

Khalid Safi, MBBS

Dr. Safi received his medical degree from Jordan University of Science and Technology Faculty of Medicine, completed Pediatric Residency at University of Jordan and again at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. He completed his Pediatric Pulmonary Fellowship at University of Michigan, and his Sleep Medicine Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin. D... Read More

Britta T. Schaer, PA

Patient Rating:


4.7 out of 5

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

Jennifer Stewart, APRN

Jennifer Stewart, APRN, FNP-C, is a Family Nurse Practitioner in the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Center.  Jennifer received her Registered Nurse license in 2006, after attending the Weber State University Nursing Program.  She began her nursing career on the Children’s Medical Unit at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and worked the... Read More


Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Pulmonary Care


Eccles Primary Children’s Outpatient Services Building 801-213-3599

Chee Chun Tan, MD

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

Derek A. Uchida, MD

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
PCH Outpatient Services at Riverton 3773 West 12600 South
Riverton, UT 84065