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Coughing up blood
Alternative namesCoughing up blood is the expectoration or spitting up of blood or bloody mucus from the lungs, throat, or mouth.
ConsiderationsCoughing up blood from the lungs (hemoptysis) is sometimes confused with bleeding from the mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract.
Hemoptysis often looks frothy because it is mixed with air and sputum (secretions from the airway). It is usually bright red.
It is important to note the length of time during which hemoptysis occurs. Also important is whether it consists of mostly sputum with a small amount of blood, sputum and blood in nearly equal proportions, or nearly all blood.
Also, note any symptoms, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, or thirst, that might indicate a severe amount of blood loss. Other symptoms, such as fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, and blood in the urine may also be important.
For irritation of the throat from violent coughing, cough suppressants may help. Specific treatment of the underlying cause may be recommended by the doctor.
Call your health care provider if
If there is any unexplained coughing up of blood, call an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency department. This is very important if your cough produces large volumes of blood (more than a few teaspoons), or if it is accompanied by severe shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or dizziness.
In emergency cases, treatment will be aimed at stabilizing your condition. After you are stable, your health care providers will obtain a full medical history.
Medical history questions documenting your cough in detail may include:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
After seeing your health care provider, you may want to add a diagnosis related to coughing up blood to your personal medical record.
Update Date: 1/27/2004Allen J. Blaivas, D.O., Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University Hospital, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT