When there are blood streaks in the sputum that we exhale with a cough, we say that the person has hemoptysis.
Coughing up blood or sputum is not a concern in most cases, but there are cases where coughing up and bloody sputum (hemoptysis) are a sign of a serious complication.
>So coughing and bloody sputum are not a disease in themselves, but hemoptysis is a sign that warns of an infection and other problems in the airways (especially the airways below the throat).
This article discusses the causes of bloody sputum and hemoptysis.
When does coughing and bloody sputum require further investigation?
If you have a bloody cough and clear blood streaks in your sputum, you should see your doctor for further checkups:
- If you have shortness of breath with a bloody cough.
- If you cough up a lot of blood (if the ratio of blood to sputum is too high, it means that your cough has more blood than sputum)
- If you are struggling to breathe
- If you have chest pain
- If you have weakness and fatigue
- If you have sweating or a fast heartbeat with hemoptysis
- If you have a lightheadedness
- If you have significant weight loss in the last six months without changing your diet
- If there is blood in your urine or feces
What are the causes of coughing up bloody sputum?
The factors that cause hemoptysis are divided into the following two groups:
Common causes of coughing up bloody sputum:
- Following severe and prolonged cough
- Inflammation of the bronchi of the lungs (bronchitis) caused by a cold or the flu.
- Respiratory infections in the chest
- Bleeding from the nose
The thins we said above are both very common and generally safe, but there are a number of hemoptysis factors that may be less common but very serious:
Serious and investigable causes for cough and bloody sputum:
- Pneumonias (lung tissue infections)
- Lung cancers
- Throat cancers
- Laryngeal cancers
- Foreign body aspiration
- Pulmonary embolism
- Lung tuberculosis
- People taking anticoagulants
- Cystic fibrosis (a genetic disease caused by dysfunction of the external secretory glands)
- Alveolar hemorrhage that occurs in patients with autoimmune diseases and is very life threatening.
Common causes of bloody sputum in children:
Diagnostic methods of hemoptysis
If you go to your doctor with complaints of coughing and bloody sputum, the first step is to get a detailed history of you, which should include the following:
>How many times do you cough during the day?
What is the volume of blood in your sputum?
How long has it been since you had hemoptysis?
In addition to taking a detailed history, your examination and hearing of your lungs will be performed and, if necessary, the following paraclinical methods may be used to achieve a correct diagnosis:
- Simple chest x-ray photo
- Chest CT scan
- Sputum culture
- Bronchoscope (direct examination of the airways through the insertion of a tube equipped with a camera.