Coughing up Blood Causes – When Is It Time To Worry?
Coughing up blood can be indicative of numerous health conditions. And, it can be a sign of some very serious diseases and illnesses. But, it can also be relatively normal in some cases, oddly enough. However, there are some times that this dramatic change in mucus color may be more evident that something is seriously wrong, that should prompt an immediate visit to a health care provider.
WebMD explains that bronchitis is one of the most common causes of coughing up blood. Interestingly enough, it’s also one of the most common causes of coughing up mucus. Bronchitis is essentially the inflammation of the airways, and it can be chronic or acute in nature (although, even acute cases of the condition can last for quite some time). It can be caused by bacteria and viruses, or environmental causes such as cigarette smoke. Coughing up mucus is one of its hallmark characteristics, and there are times that the mucus produced can have a bloody tinge to it. This can be a result of slight internal injury from repeated bouts of coughing or a result of inflammation on the inside.
And, sometimes, throat mucus that is tinged with blood can simply be transferred from the nasal area. When frequent bouts of nose blowing create tiny injuries in the nostrils that can bleed, the mucus traveling along its predetermined route (which is usually swallowed) can contribute to blood tinged throat mucus. That does not necessarily mean that it originated in the throat, merely that irritation in the throat is causing it to be coughed back up, with bloody mucus in nose areas merely coming out a different way than expected. And, dried blood that has formed and collected can also tinge the shade of the mucus, which can result in coughing up brown mucus, a shade that is darker and more characteristic of older or dried blood.
But, aside from the common, there are also uncommon and very serious reasons why coughing up blood can be a very bad sign. For instance, WebMD mentions that tuberculosis, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and a pulmonary embolism can all contribute to the coughing up of bloody mucus. But, one of the most ominous of these is cancer. While many times, cancer displays few visible symptoms and can even go unnoticed for long periods of time, lung cancer can and sometimes does make itself known with the presence of phlegm that is bloody.
Conditions that are known as inflammatory in nature can also lend to coughing up blood, such as lupus and Churgg-Strauss syndrome. But, there are other reasons why coughing can bring up blood as well. WebMD mentions both the use of blood thinners and crack cocaine as potential causes. And, trauma can also cause coughing up blood in some cases like that which can result from a car accident.
Sometimes, obviously in cases such as a result of trauma, the cause of bloody phlegm is abundantly clear. However, other times, it may not be so apparent. Other symptoms that are present can be the key to determining how serious a case of coughed up bloody phlegm can be. For instance, if the phlegm is apparent only one time and there are no other related symptoms, then it may be something worth just keeping an eye on. However, if it’s persistent, recurrent or associated with other symptoms, then it may very well be time to seek immediate medical attention.
There are certain signs that can signal a medical emergency or serious health condition when they exist alongside coughing up blood. Web MD mentions that a fever that is higher than 101 degrees is one of them, and so is soaking night sweats. Shortness of breath and chest pain (which are always considered medical emergencies) are also considered warning signs when combined with bloody phlegm. And, weight loss, especially that which is rapid or unintentional may also be enough to induce worry. Again, the persistence (even when no other symptoms are present) should be noted. And, any bouts of coughing up blood that last for longer than one week should warrant a visit to a doctor. Because of the seriousness that is associated with some of the conditions that can cause coughed up bloody mucus, any unexplainable occurrences should be evaluated by a health care provider.