Definition of coughing up blood
Coughing up blood can be caused by a variety of lung conditions. Coughing up blood can take different forms: The blood may be bright red or pink and frothy, or it may be mixed with mucus. Also known as hemoptysis (he-MOP-tih-sis), coughing up blood, even in small amounts, can be alarming. However, producing a little blood-tinged sputum isn’t uncommon and usually isn’t serious.
Call 911 or seek emergency care if you’re coughing up blood in large quantities or coughing up blood frequently.
Causes of coughing up blood
Hemoptysis refers to coughing up blood from some part of the lungs (respiratory tract). Blood coming from elsewhere, such as your stomach, can mimic coughing up blood. It’s important for your doctor to determine the site of the bleeding, and then determine why you’re coughing up blood.
The major cause of coughing up blood is chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis. Other possible causes of coughing up blood include:
- COPD — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Drug use, such as crack cocaine
- Foreign body
- Lung abscess
- Lung cancer
- Mitral valve stenosis
- Parasitic infection
- Pulmonary embolism
- Trauma to the chest
- Wegener’s granulomatosis
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if you’re coughing up blood. He or she can determine whether the cause is minor or potentially more serious. Call 911 or emergency medical help if you’re coughing up a lot of blood or if the bleeding won’t stop.