Hemoptysis

Hemoptysis, which means coughing up blood, can be a sign of a minor problem or a serious medical condition. The blood that is coughed up may come from the lungs and airways. Coughed-up blood can also come from bleeding that occurs outside the lungs and airways. Blood can drain into the windpipe during a severe nosebleed or when blood is vomited from the stomach. Because hemoptysis can be a sign of something serious, a medical evaluation is required. For some people with hemoptysis, no definite cause is ever identified.

CAUSES

The most common cause of hemoptysis is bronchitis. Some other common causes include:

  • A ruptured blood vessel caused by coughing or an infection.  

  • A medical condition that causes damage to the large air passageways (bronchiectasis).  

  • A blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).  

  • Pneumonia.  

  • Tuberculosis.  

  • Breathing in a small foreign object.  

  • Cancer.

For some people with hemoptysis, no definite cause is ever identified.  

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver. Do not use cough suppressants unless your caregiver approves.

  • If your caregiver prescribes antibiotic medicines, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Do not smoke. Also avoid secondhand smoke.

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You cough up bloody mucus for longer than a week.

  • You have a blood-producing cough that is severe or getting worse.

  • You have a blood-producing cough that comes and goes over time.

  • You develop problems with your breathing.  

  • You vomit blood.

  • You develop bloody or black-colored stools.

  • You have chest pain.  

  • You develop night sweats.

  • You feel faint or pass out.  

  • You have a fever or persistent symptoms for more than 2–3 days.  

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.