Know the basics

What is hemoptysis?

Coughing blood (hemoptysis) is often a symptom of other medical condition. It can be a sign of a serious medical condition, such as infections, and problems in blood vessels or in the lungs. The blood can come from your throat, lungs or stomach.

How common is hemoptysis?

Coughing blood is relatively common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of hemoptysis?

Coughing blood is often a symptom rather than a condition. There are some other symptoms that often accompany coughing up blood:

  • Chest pain;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fever;
  • Light-headedness;
  • Major shortness of breath.

You can know where the blood come from by looking at the blood. For example, blood from the lungs can appear with tiny air bubble and mixed with mucus from the lungs.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if your cough produces considerable volume of blood (more than a teaspoon). If you cough up blood after an injury, it’s also a good idea to see your doctor. In some cases, you might see blood in your urine or stool as well. If this happens, you should seek medical attention immediately in case of blood lost.  Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes hemoptysis?

There are many medical conditions that can cause coughing blood. Some of them are more common and treatable, such as:

  • Irritation of the throat from excessive coughing – this is in many cases attributable to irritation from smoking cigarettes;
  • Bronchitis;
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can include chronic bronchitis or emphysema;

Other causes of coughing blood might include:

  • Bronchiectasis;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Overuse of anticoagulation;
  • Pulmonary embolism;
  • Congestive heart failure;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Inflammatory or auto-immune conditions;
  • Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (AVMs);
  • Using crack cocaine;
  • Trauma, such as a gunshot wound or motor vehicle accident;
  • Dieulafoy’s disease;
  • Severe nosebleeds or vomiting

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for hemoptysis?

Risk factors of coughing blood are the presence of other health condition mentioned above. You might have a higher risk of coughing blood if you have the following conditions:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus infection (for Kaposi sarcoma, tuberculosis, and fungal infections);
  • Use of drugs that suppress the immune system called immunosuppressants (for tuberculosis and fungal infections);
  • Exposure to tuberculosis;
  • A long history of smoking (for cancer);
  • Recent bed rest or surgery, cancer, a previous occurrence of or a family history of clotting, pregnancy, use of drugs that contain estrogen, and recent long-distance travel (for pulmonary embolism).

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hemoptysis diagnosed?

You doctor will ask about the nature of the bleeding, such as where bleeding comes from (airways, lungs) and the amount of blood, to determine the cause. And then, based on the preliminary evaluation, others laboratory test can be demanded, including:

  • Chest X-ray;
  • CT Scan;
  • Bronchoscopy;
  • Blood tests: such as complete blood count to determine the number of white and red blood cells in blood.

How is hemoptysis treated?

The treatment aims to stop bleeding and treat the original health condition causing coughing blood.

  • To stop bleeding, bronchial artery embolization, bronchoscopy even surgery can be performed.
  • Causal treatment depends on the health condition causing coughing blood.

Other treatments for people with coughing blood may contain:

  • Antibiotics for treatment of pneumonia or tuberculosis;
  • Chemotherapy and/or radiation for treatment of lung cancer;
  • Steroids for reducing inflammatory conditions;
  • Cough suppressants.

Transfusion of blood products or other medications to curb blood loss can be prescribed depending on the patient situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hemoptysis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with coughing blood:

  • Quitting smoking, if applicable.
  • Avoiding irritants and allergens that make you cough.
  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Follow a health care to treat health problem causing coughing blood.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: April 13, 2017 | Last Modified: April 13, 2017

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