Kids and Asthma


There’s no single test for asthma, so it can be hard to diagnose the condition in a young child, says Dr. Galant, CHOC’s Asthma, Allergy and Immunology specialist, noting that symptoms are sometimes mistaken for another illness. “The most important diagnostic findings include a chronic or intermittent cough that comes on in the middle of the night and after exercise,” Dr. Galant says. “These kids also have wheezing and they respond to a bronchodilator, which opens the airways and stops the symptoms.” In addition, children with asthma often have allergies, eczema or a family history of asthma, says Dr. Galant.


Effective treatment requires a comprehensive approach and it’s best to have a written treatment action plan, Dr. Galant says. Treatment can include regular medications and regular checks for lung and breathing function, as well as written instructions for when the child needs “rescue” medications and when to call the doctor. “We want to have few symptoms, no hospitalizations or emergency room visits and little use of the bronchodilator,” says Dr. Galant. Highly allergic patients may also benefit from allergy shots to help reduce sensitivity to allergens.


Since asthma is often due to an allergic response, children with asthma should also be tested for allergies to help identify allergens that can trigger an asthma attack, says Dr. Galant. “There are allergens and non-allergen triggers. Children can be allergic to foods as well as indoor allergens like dust, and cats. Nonallergic triggers include the common cold virus and environmental tobacco smoke,” he says. Knowing a child’s allergic triggers can help the family make changes at home to minimize the child’s exposure to allergens and avoid asthma triggers.


Your child should be checked for asthma if he or she experiences the following symptoms:

  • Chronic or persistent coughing at night
  • Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath during or after exercise
  • Wheezing


  • Approximate number of children in the United States who die from asthma each year: 200
  • Percentage of children nationwide with asthma: 10 – 12 %
  • Percentage of underserved, inner-city elementary school-aged children in Orange County with asthma: 20 – 30 %

Meet Dr. Galant - CHOC Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Specialist

Dr. Stanley Galant is the medical director of CHOC Breathmobile, CHOC’s mobile asthma treatment van. He is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UC Irvine and is the former director of pediatric allergy and immunology at UCI.

Dr. Galant did pediatric residencies at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and the UC San Francisco Medical Center. He had a fellowship in allergy/immunology at UCSF and was a medical fellow with the UCSF Medical Center’s pediatric radiology department and Cardiovascular Research Institute. The Hospital Association of Southern California named Dr. Galant a 2007 “Hospital Hero” for bringing the Breathmobile to Orange County.

Dr. Galant’s philosophy of care: “Our program is unique and provides access to preventative asthma care. To treat our patients satisfactorily and manage a chronic disease like asthma, we build trust and bonds with our patients.”

University of California Medical School, San Francisco

Pediatrics Allergy/Immunology

Dr. Stanley Galant

Making Sense of Asthma Medication

The number of children with asthma continues to rise, but the evolution of asthma medication means most attacks can now be prevented before they start.

While rescue medication is still important, the standard practice today is to prescribe inhaled corticosteroids, usually taken once or twice daily. These preventive controller medications reduce the swelling inside the airways, minimizing attacks over time.

Physician with young patient

Allowing Your Child to Play Sports with Asthma

Smiling soccer player with her chin on a ball

Your 7-year-old son loves baseball and can’t wait to join the local Little League team. Your daughter is a big soccer fan and all her fourth-grade friends play soccer after school, so she wants to play soccer also. Both kids have asthma. What to do? Just because your children have asthma does not mean they can’t participate in any sports or physical activities.

Knowledge is the best medicine. Learn more about your child's health in these features from the experts at CHOC.

Kids and Hormones
Every little boy and girl grows up and goes through the stage of life called puberty. Hormones are responsible for many of the changes that they go through.

Kids and Spine Issues
Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spine is curved in either an "s" or "c" shape. If caught early, it can be treated with a bracing program.

Kids and Heart Surgery
In the newborn population, there are many heart conditions that may need surgery. Many of these heart surgeries are new at least in the past 10 to 20 years.

Subscribe to KidsHealth