It Definitely Warrants A Call To Your Healthcare Provider But It May Not Be Indicative Of Serious Disease
With decades of experience as a health, wellness, and fitness journalist, Leah Groth has one mission: To help you become the healthiest version of yourself. A Los Angeles native currently based in Philadelphia, her bylines appear in a number of magazines and websites, including Shape, Glamour, Forbes Health, Reader’s Digest, Everyday Health, Byrdie, CBS News, and Verywell. When she isn’t writing, she can be found exploring the east coast with her husband and two children. But most of the time, she is writing.
Jenny Sweigard, MD, is an internal medicine physician practicing general and critical care medicine at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center and other hospitals in the North Carolina area.
Many know the key symptoms of COVID-19 by heart as well as some of the more serious or unexpected symptoms . However, according to research, a small percentage of COVID-19 cases have also reported the symptom of coughing up blood, and research has found evidence of reports of people coughing up blood with COVID-19.
Here’s what to know about the rare occurrenceand why healthcare providers say it may not always be indicative of serious disease .
Coughing Up Phlegm: What The Color Of Your Sputum Says About Your Health
Its not uncommon when you develop a hacking cough from deep down in your lungs to cough up a gel-like substance known as phlegm, or sputum. While you may think nothing of it, simply associating it with your sickness, the color of the mucus can tell you some things about the pathogens invading your body.
The body is a mucus-making machine, producing about 1 to 1.5 liters of phlegm every day, even when youre healthy. In health, phlegm/mucus is mostly clear and minimal, Dr. Matthew Exline, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Medical Daily in an email. If you are coughing up significant amounts of phlegm you could have an infection or allergies.
While coughing up only a little clear phlegm is considered normal, larger amounts of phlegm may indicate a developing infection. This occurs as a result of the respiratory tract becoming inflamed, which also leads to coughing. In turn, this coughing speeds up the rate for which the infection affects a person.
So, now that weve gotten clear phlegm out of the way, what do other colors of phlegm mean for our health?
There’s much the color of your phlegm whether white, gray, or brown can reveal about your health. Wikimedia
Hemoptysis Or Something Else
It is important to make a distinction between coughing up blood from the respiratory tract and from other parts of the body. For example:
- Pseudohemoptysis is the coughing up of blood not from the lungs.
- Hematemesis is the vomiting of blood from the digestive tract.
Each is treated differently and can be difficult to tell apart. In many cases, only an evaluation from a healthcare provider can pinpoint the source of the bleeding.
Some possible causes of hemoptysis include:
Hemoptysis is the only symptom in only 7% of people diagnosed with lung cancer, and it’s considered the symptom most specific for the diagnosis.
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Overview Of Coughing Up Blood
Coughing up blood can be a result of a number of lung conditions. The blood can range from pink to red and may have mucus mixed in. The formal name for coughing up blood is hemoptysis. Any amount of coughing up blood can certainly be alarming, but coughing up mucus with a little blood is not typically serious. If you are coughing up an alarming amount of blood or at a frequent rate, then you will need to see a doctor immediately.
Determining Where The Blood Is Coming From
If youre coughing up blood, a doctor must quickly determine where the blood is coming from and why. First, theyll identify the site of the bleeding and then establish why youre coughing up blood.
If theres blood or sputum in your mucus when you cough, the blood is most likely coming from your respiratory tract. The medical term for this is hemoptysis. If the blood is coming from your digestive tract, its called hematemesis.
Doctors may be able to determine the location of the bleeding by the color and texture of the blood:
- Hemoptysis: With hemoptysis, the blood is typically brighter red and frothy as it hasnt been exposed to digestive enzymes. Sometimes its mixed with mucus.
- Hematemesis: With hematemesis, the blood is usually dark. Sometimes its mixed with traces of food.
If youre coughing up blood, your treatment will depend on the underlying condition causing it. Depending on the cause, treatment may include:
- cough suppressants for a prolonged cough
- surgery to treat a blood clot or tumor
- antibiotics for infections like bacterial pneumonia or tuberculosis
- steroids to treat an inflammatory condition behind the bleeding
- antivirals to reduce the severity or duration of a viral infection
- chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat lung cancer
If youre coughing up large amounts of blood, treatment may first focus on stopping the bleeding and preventing blood and other material from getting into your lungs .
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How To Clear Phlegm When You Have Covid
While the mucus your body produces when you’re sick has a purpose, you should still try to get some of it moving while youre battling COVID-19.
Clearing mucus out wont make your infection go away, but it can help you breathe better and increase quality of life.
Here are a few ways to treat excess mucus in the lungs.
Verywell / Katie Kerpel
About Coughing Up Blood
In up to one in five cases investigated, no cause is found for coughing up blood.
If you are coughing up blood, you may cough up:
- small amounts of bright red blood
- frothy blood-streaked sputum sputum is saliva and phlegm
The blood is usually from your lungs. Its often the result of coughing for long periods or a chest infection.
Mostly, if you cough up blood, the bleeding will stop on its own. In about five per cent of people the bleeding will be severe.
This bleeding can be life threatening – call 999 if this is happening.
If the blood is dark and contains bits of food or what looks like coffee grounds, it may be coming from your digestive system.
This may also be a serious problem. You should go to hospital straight away if you vomit up blood.
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Treatments For Coughing Up Bloody Mucus
1. Bronchial Artery Embolization
In this procedure, a catheter is passed through an artery in the leg to the lungs. The source of bleeding is found out by using artificial dye and checking on the video. Metal coils or other substance is used to block the artery. Other arteries compensate for the blocked artery.
This procedure involves using tools that are attached to the end of an endoscope to stop the coughing up of blood. It can be done by using an inflated balloon that is attached at the end of the scope.
If coughing up bloody mucus is serious, it could become life-threatening. Surgery may be required to remove certain parts of lung so that the underlying cause for hemoptysis is corrected.
If You Cough Up Blood Should You Immediately Go To The Er
Despite the scariness of the symptom, Rizzo and Torres both cautioned that people shouldn’t immediately go to the emergency room.
“If you have access to a doctor or telemedicine it would be better to do it that way, since it might be something minor,” Torres said. “If you do notice , you should at least talk to a doctor to see if you need an X-Ray or CT scan.”
Rizzo said that if someone is experiencing hemoptysis and other COVID-19 symptoms like a fever or dry cough, they should seek out medical care, and said that if you do decide to go to the ER or an urgent care, you should call ahead to let medical staff know you’re coming.
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Diagnosing Why There Is Blood Is In Your Mucus
A healthcare provider will usually diagnose why blood is in your mucus by first reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination. During the examination, your doctor may ask you to cough, as well as check the nose and mouth for sites of bleeding. In some cases, additional tests may need to be done to determine the cause.
How To Diagnose The Cause Of Coughing Up Blood
There are many tests that can be given when someone is coughing up blood. The main goal of the test is to determine the rate of bleeding and what are the risks to breathing. The first step of diagnosis will be to talk with your physician about your health history and what you are experiencing. A physical examination is usually completed as well. Your physician may then recommend a chest x-ray to see if there are any changes to lungs. The chest x-ray may show a mass, fluid, congestion, or may come back as completely normal. A computerized tomography scan may be requested if the x-ray does not show everything. A CT scan will give the physician a better view of the lungs. A bronchoscopy will help the physician to see directly into the airways and lungs, which may help identify the root of the problem. A complete blood count may also be requested to see the number of white and red blood cells that are in the blood. A urinalysis can show any abnormalities that are in the urine. A blood chemistry profile will measure electrolytes and kidney function. A coagulation test will show the bloods ability to clot, which may contribute to bleeding and coughing up blood.
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How To Prevent Coughing Up Blood
Coughing up blood is often a symptom of a disease, condition, or illness. Ignoring the symptom may allow the underlying cause to worsen.
Prevention involves addressing the problem and getting proper treatment. Some lifestyle changes can be beneficial, like quitting smoking or avoiding the outdoors when pollution and smog are high.
If you have a persistent cough, dont ignore it. Treating this can help prevent you from coughing up blood.
Top 5 Causes Of Coughing Up Blood
Coughing up blood quiz
Coughing up blood is a sign of serious irritation to blood vessels or linings in your lungs or stomach. The damage can be caused by a bad bout of bronchitis, infections, or diseases like tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, and even cancer. Call your doctor if you cough up blood, but go to the ER if you have more serious symptoms like difficulty breathing, dizziness, or theres a lot of blood.
When To See A Doctor About Coughing Up Blood
Coughing up blood is very serious. You will want to see a physician as soon as you believe you are coughing up blood at an alarming rate. There may be something else happening and may require immediate medical attention. The most common cause for coughing up blood is bronchitis, which will usually get better on its own, but sometimes this can be very serious too. Be on the lookout for these symptoms as well: chest pain, shortness of breath, soaking sweats at night, fever at above 101 degrees, weight loss, etc. You will likely be admitted into the hospital until the cause of the coughing up blood is discovered.
Causes Of Coughing Up Blood
Although hemoptysis can be frightening, most causes turn out not to be serious. Blood-streaked sputum is common in many minor respiratory illnesses, such as upper respiratory infections and viral bronchitis. Sometimes the cause is blood from the nose that has traveled down the throat and then is coughed up. Such blood is not considered hemoptysis.
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Why Am I Making So Much Mucus
Even when you’re healthy, your body is a mucus-making machine, churning out about 1 to 1.5 liters of the stuff every day. Most of that mucus trickles down your throat and you don’t even notice it.
However, there are times when you do notice your mucus — usually not because you’re producing more of it, but because its consistency has changed.
“Typically, the mucus changes character. It gets thicker,” Johns says. “When it has mass effect you feel it, and when you feel it, you want to hock.” Some people just naturally have thicker, stickier mucus than others.
It generally takes a bad cold, allergy, or contact with something irritating — like a plate of nuclear-hot Buffalo wings — to throw your body’s mucus production into overdrive.
For instance, during an allergic response to an offending trigger, such as pollen or ragweed, mast cells in your body squeeze out a substance called histamine, which triggers sneezing, itching, and nasal stuffiness. The tissue of the mucus membranes starts leaking fluid, and your nose begins to run.
Drinking milk may also make some people produce more mucus. Kao says that’s due to gustatory rhinitis, a reflex reaction that’s triggered by eating. Gustatory rhinitis is also why your nose runs when you eat hot peppers. Milk proteins cause the same type of response in some people. But although you may feel like you have more phlegm, you’re not going to worsen a cold by drinking a glass of milk, Johns says.
Treatments For Coughing Up Blood
Sometimes, coughing up blood only happens once, clears up on its own or stops once an infection has passed.
If an underlying condition is causing you to cough up blood, your GP or consultant will recommend treatment. The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on your diagnosis and will take into account your general health and preferences.
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Blood In Mucus: Causes Picture Symptoms And Treatment
Blood in mucus can put worry in your mind. You may come up with different dangerous scenarios in your mind. You may even start comparing your situation with the movies you have watched with the lead characters coughing up blood. Well, before you launch into the serious scenarios and worry yourself, get proper information. The condition also known as hemoptysis can result in the appearance of blood in the sputum. It can happen when you start coughing or spitting. It may look drastic and you may fear. But, young and healthy people need not to worry about the issue. So, if you no other health problem, it means the problem may not affect yours severely.
Underlying infections or other mild respiratory conditions can result in the scenario. People suffering from asthma and bronchitis can also see the blood in their sputum. But, the alarming amount of blood you cough up signifies a big problem. The frequent appearance of blood in mucus may also indicate some serious problem. Therefore, you need to consult your doctor immediately. Stomach or lung disease can lead to the problem, which requires immediate medical care Read ahead to know the exact causes and treatment options for the condition.
When To Go To The Hospital
Coughing up blood can quickly become an emergency. Coughing up more than one teaspoon of blood is considered a medical emergency.
Coughing up 100 cubic centimeters of blood1/3 of a cupis called massive hemoptysis and has a mortality rate of 30% to 50%. Don’t try to drive yourself or have someone else drive you to the hospitalcall 911.
The issue is that coughing up blood can quickly cause airway obstruction and infiltration of the blood into your lungs, leading to suffocation and death.
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Why Is There Blood In My Mucus
If you feel unwell and are struggling with a respiratory illness, you may cough up red mucus. Red phlegm or mucus is a sign that blood has been mixed in with your sputum.
This is a common occurrence in many mild respiratory illnesses including upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis or asthma. It can be alarming to see blood in your mucus, especially if there is a lot of it. In most cases, a small amount of blood in your mucus is nothing to worry about. Coughing up or vomiting large amounts of blood can be a sign that you have a more serious health condition that needs medical attention.
In this article, Ill help you understand where the blood in your mucus might be coming from, and what could have caused it. Ill tell you how its treated, and when you should see a medical professional about blood in your mucus.
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
In an emergency, your provider will give you treatments to control your condition. The provider will then ask you questions about your cough, such as:
- How much blood are you coughing up? Are you coughing up large amounts of blood at a time?
- Do you have blood-streaked mucus ?
- How many times have you coughed up blood and how often does it happen?
- How long has the problem been going on? Is it worse at some times such as at night?
- What other symptoms do you have?
The provider will do a complete physical exam and check your chest and lungs. Tests that may be done include:
- Bronchoscopy, a test to view the airways
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