By Medicover Hospitals / 9 Feb 2021
Seeing blood when you cough can alarm, whether in a large or small amount. Coughing up blood is almost always a symptom of a disease. The blood you cough up may come from your nose, throat, upper respiratory tract, or lungs.
- What is Coughing up blood?
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is Coughing up blood?
Hemoptysis is coughing up blood or blood-stained mucus from the bronchial tubes, larynx, trachea, or lungs. It is bleeding from the airways. Lung cancer, infections such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, or pneumonia, and some cardiovascular problems may occur in this manner. Coughing up blood is not the same as vomiting blood. Blood that coughed up also appears bubbly and combined with mucus. It can be red or rust-colored and usually found in small amounts. Vomiting blood refers to the expulsion of large amounts of blood from the mouth.
Types of coughing up blood(hemoptysis):
Hemoptysis is divided into types based on the amount of blood it expels during 24 hours.
- Massive or life-threatening hemoptysis: Different experts have different guidelines for what this type involves. They range from 100 milliliters (ml) of blood to more than 600 ml, or about half a liter.
- Non-massive or non-life-threatening hemoptysis: This is also known as moderate or submassive hemoptysis. You can cough up 20-200 ml (about one cup) of blood.
- Little or mild hemoptysis: You cough less than 20 ml, less than a tablespoon.
Many problems can cause this symptom, ranging from throat irritation to lung cancer.
While coughing up blood is not a symptom to ignore, most cases are mild and not serious. This can irritate the airways and possibly cause them to cough up blood when a person has a respiratory infection or heavy cough.
Bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis is usually behind the appearance of blood. The condition involves persistent or recurrent inflammation of the airways, along with coughing and sputum production.
Bronchiectasis: This describes a permanent enlargement of parts of the airways in the lungs. It also happens with an infection, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Prolonged or severe cough: This can irritate the upper respiratory tract and tear the blood vessels.
Anticoagulants: These medications prevent the blood from clotting.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): COPD is a permanent blockage of the airflow in the lungs. It usually causes shortness of breath, coughing, sputum production, and wheezing.
Pneumonia: Bloody sputum may cause this and other lung infections. Inflammation of the lung tissue, usually because of a bacterial infection, characterized by pneumonia. People with pneumonia appear to have chest pain, exhaustion, fever, sweating, and chills while they are breathing or coughing.
Pulmonary embolism: It refers to a blood clot in an artery in a lung. It usually causes sudden chest pain and shortness of breath.
Pulmonary edema: This describes the fluid in the lungs. Pulmonary edema is more common in people with heart conditions. It causes pink, frothy sputum, and severe shortness of breath, sometimes with chest pain.
Lung cancer: A person is more likely to get lung cancer if they are over 40 and smoke tobacco. It can cause a cough that doesn't go away, shortness of breath, chest pain, and sometimes bone pain or headaches.
Neck cancer: Usually begins in the throat, larynx, or trachea. It can cause swelling or pain that does not heal, a permanent sore throat, and a red or white patch in the mouth.
Cystic fibrosis: This inherited condition seriously damages the lungs. It usually causes shortness of breath and a persistent cough with thick mucus.
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis. This describes the inflammation of the blood vessels in the sinuses, lungs, and kidneys. A runny nose, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, wheezing, and fever are typically induced.
Tuberculosis: A bacterium causes this serious lung infection, which can cause fever, sweating, chest pain, pain when breathing or coughing, and a persistent cough.
Narrow heart valves: A narrowing of the mitral valve of the heart, called stenosis of the mitral valve, may cause shortness of breath, particularly during exertion or when lying down. Swollen feet or legs and heart palpitations or exhaustion, especially with increased physical activity, are other symptoms.
A serious injury: Chest trauma may cause blood to appear within the sputum.
Other causes include:
In some cases, doctors can't find a cause, but hemoptysis usually clears up within 6 months.
- Congestive heart failure, especially due to mitral stenosis
- Use of crack cocaine
- Foreign objects in your airways
- Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions
- Lung abscess
- Non-cancerous lung tumors
- Parasitic infection
- Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
- An injury such as a gunshot wound or a car accident
- Use of blood thinners (anticoagulants)
- Hughes-Stovin syndrome
- Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
Since coughing up blood can range from mild to severe, it is important to diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms so that you can receive proper treatment.
Your healthcare provider will begin an exam by asking you how much blood you have been coughing up for how long, and how much is mixed with mucus.
The following tests can be performed:
- A chest computed tomography (CT) scan
- Chest x-ray to look for tumors or fluid in the lungs
- Lung exploration
- Lung biopsy
- Bronchoscopy to check if the airway is clear
- Blood count
- A sputum culture of lung excretions to look for infection
- Blood coagulation test
- Pulmonary arteriography to see how blood is flowing through your lungs
The treatments aim to stop the bleeding and treat the underlying cause. Possible treatments include:
Steroids: Steroids can help when there is an inflammatory disease behind the bleeding.
Antibiotics: In pneumonia or tuberculosis cases, antibiotics are used
Bronchoscopy: It gives a close look at the potential causes of bleeding. An instrument called an endoscope is inserted into the airway through the nose or mouth. Tools can be attached at the end. Others are intended to avoid bleeding, while others may dissolve a blood clot, for instance.
Embolizing: A doctor can prescribe a procedure called embolization if a large blood vessel is responsible for the blood in the sputum. a doctor may recommend a procedure called embolization. A catheter is inserted into the vessel, the source of the bleeding is identified, and a metal coil, chemical, or piece of gelatin sponge is used to seal it off.
Transfusion: Transfusion of products from the blood. When clotting issues or overly thin blood handle the appearance, a transfusion of elements in the blood, such as plasma, clotting factors, or platelets, may need blood in the sputum.
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy: These can be used to treat lung cancer.
Surgery: This may be necessary to remove a cancerous or damaged part of the lung. Surgery is generally considered a last resort and only an option when bleeding is severe or persistent.
When to visit a Doctor?
It is important to contact your doctor every time you cough up blood, as it can be a sign of a serious respiratory condition.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you are coughing up tiny quantities of blood for more than a week. They will determine the cause of your hemoptysis.
Seek immediate attention if you are coughing up more than a few teaspoons of blood or if your cough is accompanied by the following:
- Chest pain
- Blood in your urine or stools
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid or severe weight loss
- Coughing up blood is a symptom of an illness, condition or illness. Ignoring the symptom can allow the underlying cause to get worse.
- Prevention is therefore about tackling the problem and getting appropriate treatment. Stopping smoking, as well as avoiding the outdoors when pollution and smog are high, can be beneficial.
- If you don't ignore a persistent cough, it can also help prevent this symptom.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The main cause of coughing up blood is chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis. Other possible causes of coughing up blood include: exacerbation of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) - worsening of symptoms. Cystic fibrosis.
A severe medical condition may be a symptom of coughing up blood (hemoptysis). Infections, cancer, and problems with the blood vessels of the lungs themselves may be to blame. Coughing up blood generally requires a medical evaluation, unless the hemoptysis is due to bronchitis.
The medical term for coughing up blood is hemoptysis. You may cough up small amounts of bright red blood or frothy sputum with streaks of blood (phlegm). Blood usually comes from the lungs and is often the result of a prolonged cough or a chest infection.
American Family Physician - https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1001/p1253.html
Clinical Care Medicine - https://journals.lww.com/ccmjournal/Abstract/2000/05000/
Health Maza - https://healthmaza.com/coughing-up-blood-symptoms-reasons/