Hemoptysis: When you sneeze while coughing up blood

When you cough up blood from your lungs, that is hemoptysis. A major medical problem could be indicated by it. It can be brought on by infections, tumors, and issues with the blood arteries in your lungs. You should visit a doctor if you’re coughing up blood unless you have bronchitis.

Based on how much blood you cough up throughout a 24-hour period, there are several types of hemoptysis. But sometimes it can be difficult to tell.

  • large or hemoptysis that is life-threatening. Different professionals have different recommendations for what this category entails. They range in blood volume from 100 milliliters (mL) to more than 600 mL, or around one pint.
  • hemoptysis that’s not life-threatening or severely severe. Submassive or mild hemoptysis are other names for this condition. Between 20 and 200 mL, or nearly a cup, of blood, may come up in your cough.
  • Insignificant or minor hemoptysis. Less than a tablespoon, or less than 20 mL, is all you cough up.

Many conditions, such as the following, can lead to hemoptysis:

pneumonia and bronchitis are lung infections.

lung and throat cancer

atrial fibrillation or heart failure are two examples of heart issues.

arterial aneurysm



unidentified object in the airway

effects of prescription drugs

Causes of Hemoptysis

  • Inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes that convey air to and from the lungs, is known as bronchitis. Bronchitis may be brought on by bacteria, viruses, or allergens like smoke or dust.
  • Cancer that starts in the lungs is known as lung cancer. The most common type of cancer that kills both men and women is lung cancer.
  • The disorder known as bronchiectasis causes the lungs’ airways to expand and sustain damage. Bleeding and inflammation may result from this.
  • Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A virus, bacteria, or fungus can all cause pneumonia.
  • A bacterial infection that can reach the lungs is tuberculosis. Lung inflammation and bleeding can be brought on by tuberculosis.
  • The heart’s ability to pump blood as efficiently as it should is impaired in heart failure. As a result, the lungs may accumulate fluid, which may inflame and cause bleeding.
  • Aortic aneurysm: An aortic aneurysm is a bulging in the aorta, which is the primary artery that supplies blood to the body’s tissues from the heart. In the event of an aortic aneurysm rupture, the lungs may hemorrhage.
  • One example of trauma is an injury to the chest, such as a broken rib or knife wound.
  • Blood clotting issues can be brought on by diseases like leukemia and hemophilia, which are classified as blood disorders.
  • Drugs: Some drugs, such as blood thinners, can make you more likely to bleed.

Symptoms for Hemoptysis

  • Continual cough: Hemoptysis frequently comes with a persistent cough, which may or may not be productive (producing sputum). With effort or heavy breathing, the cough could get worse.
  • Sputum with visible blood: Hemoptysis is characterized by the appearance of sputum with visible blood. Small splotches or big volumes of blood are both possible.
  • Color and consistency of sputum: The sputum can range in color from bright red (which indicates recent bleeding) to dark or brownish (which indicates older blood). According to the amount and type of bleeding, it could be foamy or clotted.
  • The following respiratory symptoms may also be present in people with hemoptysis, depending on the underlying cause: chest pain, tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • Fever: Along with a cough and blood-stained sputum, hemoptysis that is brought on by a respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, may also be accompanied by a fever.
  • Weight loss and fatigue: In some circumstances, systemic symptoms like weight loss, weariness, or general malaise might be brought on by underlying disorders like lung cancer or serious lung diseases.
  • Respiratory difficulty: Severe or large hemoptysis can cause significant respiratory distress, which includes rapid breathing, a quick heartbeat, or bluish staining of the skin (cyanosis). Medical attention must be provided right away for this.

Effects of Hemoptysis

  • Pain in the body: Coughing up blood can be upsetting and concerning. A person could feel anxious, afraid, or panicked as a result of it.
  • Blood loss: Hemoptysis may cause some loss of blood, depending on how much is coughed up. Anaemia can produce weariness, weakness, and shortness of breath and can result from significant blood loss.
  • Hemoptysis frequently accompanies underlying respiratory diseases that show symptoms of the respiratory system. In addition to these symptoms, a person may also have coughing, chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, or trouble breathing, depending on the underlying reason.
  • Infection: Respiratory diseases like pneumonia or tuberculosis can sometimes cause hemoptysis. If not treated, these infections may result in additional problems.
  • Hemoptysis can be a sign of a number of underlying diseases, such as lung cancer, bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pulmonary embolism, or lung abscess. These disorders can have a wide range of symptoms, from non-threatening to potentially fatal.
Effects of Hemoptysis

Diagnosis of Hemoptysis

  •  Chest X-ray: This examination can assist in locating any heart or lung anomalies that may be the source of the hemoptysis.
  • A chest X-ray cannot capture the lungs as much detail as a CT scan. It can be employed to spot lung tumors, blood clots, or other abnormalities.
  • In order to do a bronchoscopy, an airway is entered by a small, flexible tube that has a camera inside. The doctor can check for bleeding and take tissue samples for additional testing using the bronchoscope.
  • The underlying cause of hemoptysis determines the course of treatment. Sometimes no therapy is required. In other situations, a treatment plan might involve drugs, surgery, or other techniques.
  • The following are some of the most typical causes and therapies for hemoptysis:
  • Inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes that convey air to and from the lungs, is known as bronchitis. A virus or bacteria is frequently to blame for bronchitis. Bronchitis is typically treated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter drugs including cough syrup and analgesics.
  • Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A virus, bacteria, or fungus can all cause pneumonia. Antibiotics are generally used to treat pneumonia. Serious conditions can necessitate hospitalization.
  • A persistent infection that can harm the lungs and other organs is tuberculosis. A mixture of antibiotics is typically used to treat tuberculosis.
  • Lung cancer is a particular sort of cancer that starts there. Surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy are frequently used in the treatment of lung cancer.
  • Heart failure: This is a condition when the heart is unable to adequately pump blood. Hemoptysis may result from a buildup of fluid in the lungs due to heart failure. Medication and lifestyle modifications, such as giving up smoking and adopting a balanced diet, are typically used to treat heart failure.

Treatment of Hemoptysis

  • In bronchoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the airways. The bronchoscope can be used by the doctor to check for bleeding and collect tissue samples for additional examination. The doctor may be able to use the bronchoscope to apply a clot or to inject a drug to halt the bleeding if the bleeding is coming from a particular blood vessel.
  • In order to stop the blood supply to the bleeding location, a material is injected into the bronchial artery during the process known as bronchial artery embolization. This may aid in halting the bleeding.
  • Surgery may be required in some circumstances to halt the bleeding. This can entail reconstructing a blood artery or removing a portion of the lung.
  • Medication: Medication may be used to treat the infection or inflammation underlying the hemoptysis’s underlying cause. Blood thinners or clotting factors are two examples of medications that may be used to control the bleeding.
Treatment of Hemoptysis

Natural remedies for Hemoptysis

  • Taking a nap
  • staying hydrated
  • drinking lots of water
  • taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat any pain
  • drinking hot liquids such as hot honey 
  • lemon with the advice of a chemist or doctor, taking cough syrup, cough medicines, or cough sweets, and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat any discomfort. 

However, this is not suitable for infants under the age of one.

Prevention for Hemoptysis

  • Give up smoking. The main cause of lung cancer, which is a major contributor to hemoptysis, is smoking. Your chance of acquiring lung cancer and other lung conditions that might result in hemoptysis can be decreased by quitting smoking.
  • Don’t smoke around others. Additionally, exposure to secondhand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer and other lung conditions. Ask your smoking flatmate to stop or to smoke outside if you share a residence.
  • Visit the doctor frequently. It’s crucial to schedule routine checks with your doctor if you suffer from a chronic lung disease like COPD or asthma. This will make it easier for your doctor to keep an eye on your health and spot any issues right away.
  • Be mindful of your heart. Another significant contributor to hemoptysis is heart disease. If you have heart disease, it’s crucial to take action to manage your risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Steer clear of environmental toxins. Lung cancer and other lung conditions that might result in hemoptysis are more likely to occur if you are exposed to environmental contaminants like asbestos and air pollution. Take protective measures, such as wearing a respirator, if you work in a workplace where you are exposed to environmental pollution.

Complications of Hemoptysis

  • Anaemia: Anaemia is a condition in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells. This may occur if you get hemoptysis and lose a lot of blood.
  • When the body does not receive enough blood, shock, a potentially fatal condition, develops. This may occur if you get hemoptysis and lose a lot of blood.
  • Infection: If you cough up blood, your lungs could become infected.
  • Hemoptysis can sometimes result in death. Usually, shock or respiratory failure is to blame for this.
  • Infection: Underlying respiratory illnesses like tuberculosis or lung abscesses can cause hemoptysis. If these infections are not treated, they may spread, harm the lungs, or result in abscesses, among other consequences.
  • Hemoptysis is a symptom that can indicate the advancement of a number of underlying illnesses, such as lung cancer, bronchiectasis, or pulmonary embolism. If the underlying issue is not identified and treated right once, it may deteriorate and cause other problems, such as metastasis (the spread of cancer), deteriorating lung damage, or potentially fatal blood clots.

Here are some suggestions to assist you in overcoming the effects of hemoptysis:

Get lots of sleep.

Take in a lot of liquids.

Maintain a balanced diet.

Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and appropriate treatment.

Author Information

Contributed by

Author Contribution: Reviewed by Dr. Ram Reddy, MD – General Physician, and Rajeshwar Rao, Pharm D.

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