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Coughing up Blood – 15 Common Causes, Treatment & When To See The Doctor

Coughing up Blood

Coughing up blood or hemoptysis is when you cough or spit up blood or bloody mucus from your respiratory tract. It’s a frequent symptom with a variety of causes. Some of these conditions are extremely dangerous.

Coughing up blood is not the same as vomiting blood. Coughed-up blood is frequently bubbly and mixed with mucus. It is usually found in small amounts and can be red or rust-colored. Large amounts of blood are expelled from your mouth when you vomit blood.

Seeing blood when you cough, whether it’s a huge or small quantity, might be frightening. Coughing up blood is a common symptom of an underlying condition.

The severity of the disease is often determined by how much blood a person coughs up and how often they do so.

Causes of Coughing up Blood

Coughing up blood can be caused by conditions ranging from mild to severe, such as a throat infection or lung cancer. Coughing up blood should not be overlooked due to the likelihood of significant underlying diseases.

Common causes of coughing up blood include:

Respiratory tract infections

Coughing up blood can be caused by infective and inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract including laryngitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

People who have respiratory tract infections may have had a recent cold or fever, as well as other symptoms of the disease such as tiredness. Other members of their family may be ill as well.

A person may be able to recuperate at home without the use of medicine in some cases. Bronchitis caused by a virus, for example, normally clears up on its own. Bacterial bronchitis, on the other hand, may necessitate antibiotic treatment.

In more serious cases, such as severe pneumonia, a person may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids, antibiotics, breathing treatments, and monitoring.


Blood can flow into the back of the nose and the top of the throat if a nosebleed occurs while sleeping on one’s back. Blood may be swallowed and then coughed up by the person.

When a person sits up, they may discover blood coming from their nose. If a person has a significant nosebleed, they may cough up blood from the throat.

Nosebleeds are usually not life-threatening and will go away on their own. Extreme bleeding that does not cease within 30 minutes, on the other hand, may necessitate medical attention.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious lung infection that can spread to other parts of the body and cause death.

TB is more likely if a person detects a substantial amount of blood rather than a few droplets. Coughing up blood is common in many countries, however, the rate is lower in developed nations.

People who live or work in close proximity to those who are at high risk of contracting tuberculosis contract it from others, making them more vulnerable.

Lung Cancer

Blood in the mucus or a bloody cough could indicate the presence of cancer, such as lung cancer.

Lung cancer is more likely to affect people over the age of 40 and those who smoke extensively.

The type of lung cancer a person has and how far it has progressed determine treatment options. It may, however, involve tumor removal surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a range of lung diseases that affect the alveoli. The lungs have a difficult time exchanging gas as a result of COPD.

In the United States, it is the fourth-largest cause of death. People who smoke have a higher risk of developing COPD, especially as they get older.

COPD has no treatment at the moment, and the symptoms might get worse over time.

Vascular abnormalities

Coughing up blood is a rare symptom of problems with blood vessels in the lungs or elsewhere in the body. Coughing up blood can be caused by an embolism, which occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs.

Individuals with a history of blood clots, those who must sit for long periods of time or who have recently had surgery, and smokers are all at risk.

An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a malformation of a major vessel. It could be twisted or have other issues, for example. Coughing up blood can occur when a pulmonary AVM ruptures in or near the lungs.

Other possible causes of coughing up blood include:

  • Lung abscess
  • Mitral valve stenosis
  • Foreign body
  • Parasitic infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis)
  • Trauma to the chest
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Drug use, such as crack cocaine

When To See The Doctor

If you’re coughing blood, see a doctor right away. He or she can figure out if the problem is mild or serious. If you’re coughing up a lot of blood or bleeding won’t stop, call 911 or get immediate medical care.

Treatment of Coughing up Blood

Cough suppressants can be used to treat mild and temporary bloody coughing. If your bloody coughing persists or worsens, however, you should seek medical attention.

After determining the cause of your bloody cough, your doctor will discuss the best treatment options with you, taking into account both your symptoms and the underlying condition. They might try embolizing (blocking) a bleeding artery or performing a bronchoscopy first to stop the bleeding.

If a tumor is discovered to be the cause of your problem, surgery and cancer treatment may be necessary. For pneumonia or tuberculosis, antibiotics may be required. The inflammation that is causing the bleeding may be treated with steroids.


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