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Hemoptysis (Coughing Up Blood)

What Is Hemoptysis?

Hemoptysis is the term for coughing up blood or bloody mucus from your respiratory tract (lungs and throat). It’s not the same as bleeding from your mouth, throat or gastrointestinal tract, though it may look similar.

Blood can appear bubbly since it includes air and mucus. It may be bright red, rust-colored or have bloody streaks.

Symptoms and causes are usually treatable. However, hemoptysis can be life-threatening. These conditions or treatments can make you cough up blood:

  • Inhaling food, saliva or stomach acid (pulmonary aspiration)
  • Procedures such as bronchoscopy (viewing airway and lungs with a lighted tube) and biopsy (taking a sample)
  • Bronchiectasis (widens airways)
  • Bronchitis (bronchial tube or airway inflammation)
  • Diseases such as cancer or cystic fibrosis
  • Blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
  • Lung artery injuries
  • Violent coughing
  • Lung infections such as pneumonia
  • Pulmonary edema (lung swelling)
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
  • Tuberculosis (bacterial disease)
  • Medications

Symptoms

Hemoptysis symptoms range from mild to severe. Contact your doctor anytime you cough up blood.

Hemoptysis symptoms include:

  • Streaks of blood
  • Bright red blood
  • Bloody mucus
  • Bubbly blood or mucus

Symptoms Requiring Immediate Medical Attention

  • Coughing up more than a few teaspoons of blood
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Fever
  • Severe shortness of breath

Treatment Options

Coughing up blood can indicate a serious condition. You may need immediate hospitalization until doctors stop the bleeding.

Doctors will evaluate your symptoms, condition and history. Testing may include a physical exam and checking your chest and lungs.

Tests may include:

  • Bronchoscopy (views airways and lungs)
  • Chest X-rays or CT scans
  • Complete blood count or CBC (blood cells and blood-clotting platelets)
  • Lung biopsy
  • Lung scan
  • Angiography (shows blood flowing through lungs)
  • Sputum culture and smear
  • Prothrombin time (PT) or partial thromboplastin time (PTT) blood-clotting tests

Treatment depends on the cause. If it’s another disease, you may see a specialist. Your doctor may ask you to track symptoms, including how long you cough and how much blood appears.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of hemoptysis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat hemoptysis.