Blood in phlegm

When a person coughs, or spits, blood can be found in the mucus or sputum. This can happen with a severe cold but may also indicate a more serious condition, such as bronchitis.

Blood in sputum is common in mild respiratory conditions such as upper respiratory infections or asthma. It can also indicate a severe illness, like bronchitis or lung cancer. Doctors cannot pinpoint a cause for about half of the people who suffer from this condition.

Doctors differentiate between mild and mass hemoptysis. Sputum with a slight bloody tint is mild hemoptysis. This usually needs to be more serious. Massive hemoptysis occurs when an individual produces 100-1,000 milliliters (Trusted Source) of blood in 24 hours. This can be fatal.

This article discusses the causes and treatment of blood in sputum.

Where did it come from?

A variety of factors can cause blood in the sputum.

Blood can come from anywhere, including the stomach and digestive tract. Hematemesis is the medical term for blood that comes from the digestive system.

The blood may be bright red and frothy and mixed with mucus. This is hemoptysis, and it can be caused by persistent coughing or lung disease.

If the blood appears dark and contains traces of food, it is likely to have originated in the stomach or somewhere else in the digestive system, such as hematemesis.

Causes, symptoms, and causes

There are several possible causes for blood in sputum.

Bronchitis is characterized by persistent or recurring Inflammation in the airways. It also includes a persistent cough and the production of sputum. It can last up to three weeks and be either chronic or acute.

Bronchiectasis is a term used to describe a permanent expansion of particular airways. This chronic condition can also cause wheezing and shortness of breath.

A severe or persistent cough may irritate and damage blood vessels in the upper respiratory tract.

Inhaling coca or other recreational drugs may irritate the upper respiratory tract and cause damage.

Anticoagulants prevent blood clotting. Examples are warfarin, rivaroxaban, dabigatran, and APIXABAN.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) causes airflow obstruction to the lungs and can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, sputum production, and wheezing.

Pneumonia is Inflammation of lung tissue caused by a bacterial infection. Chest pain or discomfort when coughing and breathing, fever (fever), sweating, and chills are common symptoms. Confusion can affect older adults.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in the lung’s artery. It is usually accompanied by chest pain, sudden breathlessness, and life-threatening.

Neck Cancer is usually found in the larynx or windpipe. This can lead to a persistent sore neck and a white or red patch on the mouth.

Cystic Fibrosis affects the lungs. It is characterized by persistent mucusy coughing and difficulty breathing.

Granulomatosis With Polyangiitis is an inflammation of blood vessels that affects the kidneys, the lungs, and the sinuses. A runny or bloody nose, shortness of breath, wheezing, and fever characterize this condition.

Tuberculosis can cause a fever, sweating, and chest pain. It may also cause pain when coughing or breathing.

Mitral Valve Stenosis is a narrowing or obstruction of the mitral heart valve. Swollen legs or feet, heart palpitations, and fatigue can cause shortness of breath.

Blood can appear in the sputum after a severe chest injury.


A doctor usually performs a physical exam and takes a medical history to determine the reason for blood in sputum.

During an examination, a physician may:

Ask the person to cough.

Check for bleeding in the nose and mouth.

Take samples of sputum or blood for testing.

Additional studies are sometimes necessary, including a chest X-ray, CT scan, or bronchoscopy.

A doctor will insert an “endoscope” into the airway via the nose or mouth. A doctor can use an endoscope with a camera attached to the tube. This allows them to diagnose the bleeding problem and treat it simultaneously.


The treatment aims to stop bleeding and treat the cause.

Various options are available, depending on the individual’s requirements. The treatment will be determined by the severity of the bleeding and its underlying cause.

Treatment options include:

A doctor prescribes steroids to control inflammation or antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection such as TB.

Using tools to stop the bleeding or remove a blood clot during a bronchoscopy.

People with lung and neck cancer may need various treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

You may need to use a trusted source if you have severe bleeding.

Bronchial arterial embolization: A doctor may recommend embolization if the blood in the sputum is caused by damage to the bronchial vessel. A surgeon will insert a catheter, determine the Source of bleeding and then use a metal wire, chemical, or fragment of sponge gelatin to seal the vessel.

Vasoconstrictors. Drugs like vasopressin can reduce bleeding (Trusted Source) by reducing blood vessel size.

Blood Product Transfusion: When clotting issues lead to blood in sputum, it may be necessary for elements of the blood to be transfused, such as platelets, plasma, clotting factor, or plasma.

Surgery It may be required to remove a cancerous or damaged portion of your digestive system or airways. This is a good option when the bleeding is persistent or severe.

Breathing can be difficult if there is severe bleeding in the lungs. In this situation, the person may require intubation or supplemental oxygen.


Small amounts of blood in sputum are not a concern. In 90%TrustedSource, mild hemoptysis will resolve itself.

Blood may indicate severe damage to your digestive or airways. The mortality rate could be as high as 80%Trusted Source without treatment because it affects a person’s breathing. This individual will require immediate medical attention.

Sometimes, the bleeding persists even though a person doesn’t produce much blood. Bleeding over a few weeks could indicate lung cancer or other serious illnesses. If you notice blood in your phlegm, it is essential to seek medical attention.


Blood traces are not uncommon in phlegm. It is often caused by a respiratory infection or another problem that resolves independently. It is best to consult a doctor when blood is found in the phlegm.

If you experience persistent bleeding, it could be a sign that something more serious is happening. For example, lung cancer or TB will need treatment.

Treat the blood as an emergency and get immediate medical care.

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