Blood in Mucus, Coughing up Blood – Diagnosis, Causes and Treatments

the first two terms, it is the existence of blood in the mucus; whether they are spit or coughed up from the lungs or respiratory tract. They are also called as hemoptysis which is a symptom of various diseases from mild to severe ones. They can be the result of malignancy, trauma, inflammation, infection and among other processes that are not normal.

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Most of the blood in mucus appears clear but they can have the appearance of a streak of pinkish or reddish color – which indicates a mild condition. Conditions include various reasons such as mild irritation of the lungs and throat; such as excessive coughing because of inhaling smoke for a short amount of time. Coughing up blood can also be the result of moderate to severe diseases, disorders or conditions such as bleeding disorders, choking, asthma, bronchiolitis, smoking, tuberculosis, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

The bloody sputum may disappear quickly or can be short-term as well; which entirely depends on the cause, particularly those of mild disorders. Short-term ones can be caused by pneumonia in which treatment is easy. Coughing up blood can last for longer periods of time if it is due to serious illnesses such as lung cancer.  Other conditions which result to coughing up blood are lung abscess, collapsed lungs, parasitic infections and fungal infections of lungs.

Sometimes blood in mucus often happens when they come in together with another symptom; although this varies depending on the kind of condition, disorder or disease. Some of the other symptoms include breath shortness, flu-like signs, fever and cough.


Diagnosis of bloody sputum is done starting from the basics by checking the medical history of the family of the patient, physical examination and assessing the symptoms. The physical examinations include listening to the sounds emanating from the lungs through a stethoscope. Certain lung sounds indicate certain body illnesses such as wheezing which points to asthma while the bubbling sounds point to pneumonia.

Noninvasive test is also conducted or sometimes requested by the doctor.  This is known as pulse oximetry. The pulse oximeter is fastened to the fingertip (which is painless) wherein it measures the oxygen concentration in the blood. A gas test of the arterial blood is also performed which is a blood test in measuring the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood; others include a number of significant markers for effective breathing.

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There are other tests involved in identifying the underlying condition, disease or disorder in the body which gives rise to the blood in mucus. These tests will help identify if the symptoms point directly at one or more of the following: parasitic and fungal infections of the lungs, bleeding disorders, lung cancer, lung abscess, amyloidosis, lung trauma and bronchitis. The tests to be conducted depend on the case and these tests include imaging tests like the MRI, nuclear scans, CT scan and X-ray. Other tests are biopsy of the lung tissue, EKG and blood tests.

Misdiagnosis may lead to Death

Sometimes there are cases in which patients leave blood in mucus unchecked by their doctors because it generally looks alright.  Especially for cases where bloody sputum does not occur frequently and they are not as severe, patients will forego seeking medical help. Misdiagnosis or delay in identifying the underlying cause may also be because symptoms do not occur right away; such as in many cases with lung cancer. Since coughing up blood can either be mild, moderate or severe, it needs thorough medical examination in order to have an accurate diagnosis for the reason of its appearance. It can be very dangerous and even fatal if left undiagnosed by the doctor. The underlying grave causes may include: chronic liver diseases, Alveolar Hydatid Disease, cystic fibrosis, aortic aneurysm, lymphoma, tuberculosis, pulmonary embolism and pneumonia.

Treatments for Blood in Mucus

Treatments for blood in mucus entirely depend on the underlying cause. They are modified depending on the cause the doctor has identified during several examinations and tests. Doctors also rely on the medical history of the patient and the family as well. The treatment generally includes a complex plan that focuses on the cause, decreasing the risk of the development of complications and overall helps the patient to rest and breathe comfortably.

When the underlying reason for coughing up blood is because of low level of oxygen within the blood, the treatment generally used here is supplemental oxygen. There are various devices that can be worn by the patient in order to successfully deliver various concentrations of the supplemental oxygen. The oxygen is supplied to the lungs via mechanical ventilation when the underlying cause is respiratory failure or difficulty in breathing.

Quitting smoking helps lessen the risk of having blood in mucus and lung cancer. The treatment involved in lung cancer may include removal of part of the lungs through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

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