General Practice 2022

Cough with blood: 8 main causes (and what to do)

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Cough with blood: 8 main causes (and what to do)
Cough with blood: 8 main causes (and what to do)

Coughing up blood, technically called hemoptysis, is not always a sign of a serious problem, especially in young and he althy people, and may only arise from a small wound in the nose or throat that bleeds when coughing or hair prolonged dryness of the membranes of the respiratory system, for example.

However, if the cough is accompanied by bright red blood it can also be a sign of more serious he alth problems such as pneumonia, tuberculosis or lung cancer, especially when it lasts for more than a day.

Therefore, it is recommended to consult the general practitioner or a pulmonologist whenever the cough with blood takes more than 24 hours to disappear or when it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or wheezing, or when the amount of blood is large or increases over time.

1. Airway injuries

In most cases, coughing up blood is caused by simple lesions in the nose, throat irritation or due to some tests, such as bronchoscopy, lung biopsy, endoscopy or surgery to remove the tonsils, for example. example.

What to do: in most cases, coughing up blood disappears on its own without needing any treatment, however, if it lasts for more than 1 day it is important go to the pulmonologist to identify the problem and start the appropriate treatment.

2. Prolonged cough

When you have the flu and one of the symptoms is a dry, strong and prolonged cough, the presence of blood is relatively common when coughing due to irritation to the respiratory tract, which can last a few days if treatment is not carried out.

What to do: if coughing up blood or other flu symptoms do not go away after a few days, it is recommended that a doctor be consulted so that the best treatment is indicated., which may involve the use of anti-inflammatory or antipyretic drugs, for example.

3. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lung that usually causes symptoms such as coughing up blood, fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, and palpitations. Diagnosis is based on tests and treatment may include antibiotics.

What to do: since some types of pneumonia need to be treated with antibiotics, it is advisable to go to the pulmonologist to confirm the diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment. In the most severe cases, pneumonia can greatly affect breathing, and it may even be necessary to stay in the hospital. Learn more about treating this infection and what options are available.

4. Tuberculosis

In addition to coughing up blood, very characteristic of tuberculosis cases, this disease can also cause other signs such as constant fever, night sweats, excessive tiredness and weight loss. In this case the cough must have been present for more than 2 weeks.The test that identifies pulmonary tuberculosis is the sputum test and treatment is done with antibiotics.

What to do: Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria and, therefore, its treatment is always done with antibiotics that need to be used for several months until the infection is completely cured. Therefore, whenever tuberculosis is suspected, it is very important to consult a pulmonologist. In addition, if the diagnosis is confirmed, the closest people should be notified so that they can also be tested for tuberculosis, as the disease spreads easily. See more details on tuberculosis treatment.

5. Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a respiratory disease that causes coughing up blood that gradually worsens due to permanent dilation of the bronchi, which generates an excessive production of secretion, as well as a frequent feeling of shortness of breath. This condition is mainly caused by cystic fibrosis, pneumonia or yeast infection.

What to do: It is important that the pulmonologist or general practitioner be consulted so that it is possible to make the diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment with drugs that help relieve the symptoms, improving the quality of life.

6. Bronchitis

Bronchitis can also lead to coughing up blood, although this is rarer as it causes recurrent inflammation of the bronchi, which increases irritation of the airways and the likelihood of bleeding.

What to do: in most cases, rest and water intake are able to promote the relief of bronchitis symptoms, however, if they are persistent or exist greater difficulty breathing, it is important to consult the doctor, as medication may be necessary.

7. Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a serious problem that should be treated as soon as possible in the hospital.It usually happens due to the presence of a clot that prevents the passage of blood to the lung, causing death of the affected tissues and intense difficulty in breathing. Thus, in addition to coughing up blood, it is very common to experience extreme shortness of breath, bluish fingers, chest pain and increased heartbeat. Understand more about how pulmonary embolism arises.

What to do: whenever there is severe shortness of breath, accompanied by chest pain and coughing, it is very important to go quickly to the hospital so that appropriate treatment can be started.

8. Lung cancer

Lung cancer is suspected when there is coughing up blood and weight loss in recent months without diet or exercise. Other symptoms that may be present are tiredness and weakness, which can occur when the cancer starts in the lung, as is more common in people who smoke, or when there are metastases to the lung. Learn about other symptoms that may indicate lung cancer.

What to do: Cancer treatment success is always greater the earlier the cancer is diagnosed. Therefore, whenever there are symptoms that may indicate a lung problem, it is very important to consult a pulmonologist so that the appropriate tests are carried out and treatment begins according to the stage of the cancer, if necessary.

When to go to the doctor

It is recommended to consult a pulmonologist when coughing up blood is excessive, lasts for more than 3 days or is accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Urine or bloody stools;
  • Intense chest pain;
  • Dizziness;
  • Fever above 38°C;
  • Difficulty breathing.

If you suspect that the situation is serious, you should call 192 and call SAMU or go to the emergency room to have the situation evaluated by a doctor, who will carry out diagnostic tests such as lightning -X, bronchoscopy, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to identify the cause of coughing up blood and thus be able to indicate the most appropriate treatment.

Cough with blood in babies and children

In children, the most common cause is the presence of small objects that they put in their nose or mouth and end up in their lungs, causing a dry cough with traces of blood. In this case, it is common not to have much blood involved, but it is important to take the child to the hospital for an x-ray to be taken in order to identify the cause.

The doctor may also use a small instrument to observe the child's ears, nose and throat for small objects such as earrings, screws, corn, peas, beans or toys that may have been introduced in these places. Depending on the object introduced and its location, it may be removed with tweezers and in the most severe cases, surgery may even be necessary.

Other, less common causes of coughing up blood in babies and children are lung or heart diseases, which should be diagnosed and treated by a pediatrician. If in doubt, consult your pediatrician.

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