CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Summer smog and air pollution in central Virginia increase health risks for people with heart or pulmonary diseases. This time of year, the University of Virginia Pulmonary Clinic sees 50% more patients than usual.

UVA says summer smog - combined with high pollen levels - can cause patients to experience symptoms like wheezing, coughing, rapid breathing and chest pain.

For those who have already been diagnosed with lung or heart disease or suffer from asthma, on days where the air quality is poor, plan to spend more time indoors.

In the summer the pulmonary clinic makes more formal diagnoses of lung disease because the hot temperatures cause people to really feel the symptoms of the disease.

For children and adults with asthma, if you are having to use your inhaler more than once every four, hours or if your inhaler doesn't seem to be working at all, you should head to the emergency room or call your doctor.

"Certainly, if you're in a situation where your breathing is really difficult and some of the inhalers or puffers we use to help your breathing are not working, that can be the most appropriate way to go if you're really having trouble," said Catherine Bonham, pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Signs of heart or lung problems and asthma in children can also flare up in the summer.    

If your child is playing outside and complains of feeling uncomfortable or having chest pain or chest tightness, you should go get checked out by a doctor.

UVA encourages those who already suffer from heart or pulmonary diseases to sign up for air quality index and pollen count alerts, so you can plan accordingly.