Asthma is routinely, but wrongly, seen as only an ailment of the young.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.6 percent of children nationwide, or 6.3 million, currently have asthma, compared to 7.4 percent of all adults, or 17.7 million. A new national survey released Tuesday found that wasn’t the only misconception plaguing the respiratory condition. As it turns out, many of us are in the dark about some of its less obvious signs.

Commissioned by National Jewish Health, a leading pulmonary center based in Denver, Colo., the survey asked 1,002 adults across the country to identify potential symptoms of asthma. While most correctly labeled shortness of breath and wheezing, more than one-third failed to identify persistent coughing, and they fared even worse when it came to chest pain and trouble sleeping.

“A lot of people have asthma and don’t know it. Many adults do not have the traditional asthma symptoms, or they don’t have all of the symptoms,” said Dr. David Beuther, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, in a statement released by the center. “It's not rare that your asthma doesn't present like the textbook. It's actually more common than most people realize. To the patient or perhaps the primary care provider, things that seem like a very unusual set of symptoms for asthma are actually quite common. That is why you often need a specialist to diagnose and treat it.”

Specifically, 89 percent and 85 percent said shortness of breath and wheezing were symptoms, respectively, while 65 percent said the same for persistent coughing. Further down, only 54 percent correctly saw chest pain as a possible sign and 51 percent identified trouble sleeping. Although the percentages were fairly stable across gender lines, millennials were less likely to know trouble sleeping was a possible sign, and vice versa for chest pain with baby boomers. Blacks were less likely to identify wheezing as a symptom, and vice versa for chest pain with whites.

“These results are not surprising to those of us who see patients regularly. As a pulmonologist, I see people with symptoms that aren't yet defined like difficulty breathing, cough, and episodes of recurring bronchitis,” added Beuther. “When we first embark on trying to figure out what that is, I often mention that one of the big three causes of chronic cough, for example, is asthma. And it's more common than not that my patient is surprised to hear that a chronic cough or recurring bronchitis is actually asthma.”

While asthma and bronchitis are both inflammatory conditions that tighten our airways, acute cases of bronchitis are typically caused by bacteria or viruses and often go away on their own. Untreated asthma on the other hand can lead to a variety of negative health consequences such as pneumonia, obesity, and complications during pregnancy.

Thankfully, though asthma is a chronic and as of yet incurable condition, it can be successfully managed with a variety of medications, lifestyle changes like exercise, and an avoidance of potential triggers such as air pollution.