(WZZM) - The allergy season this year could be particularly bad thanks to our unusual winter and when the pollen counts go up, so do the number of new asthma cases.

Allergies are a typical asthma trigger, so it's not unusual for a bad allergy season to expose a person's asthma for the first time. People with asthma are more sensitive to airway irritants and diagnosis can get tricky during allergy season.

"It can be sometimes hard to sort out because a lot of people don't have very serious symptoms," said Dr. Rachel Szekely with the Cleveland Clinic. "They say well I've never had an asthma attack. I haven't been to the hospital because of my asthma. That's actually a good thing, we don't want that, but even just a chronic cough can be a symptom of asthma and you should get that checked out."

Coughing is a common symptom of asthma and it often is worse at night or early in the morning. Other symptoms include wheezing, tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. Not everyone with asthma has these symptoms. Also, having these symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you have asthma. Doctors say if symptoms last longer than a week or so, especially a cough, it's a good idea to call your doctor.

Many things can trigger asthma symptoms or make them worse. The National Institutes of Health list of triggers include:

  • Allergens from dust, animal fur, cockroaches, mold, and pollens from trees, grasses, and flowers

  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals or dust in the workplace, compounds in home decor products and sprays like hairspray

  • Medicines such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and nonselective beta-blockers

  • Sulfites in foods and drinks

  • Viral upper respiratory infections, such as colds

  • Physical activity, including exercise

To learn more about asthma, click here.

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