Reasons You Could Have Blood in Your Mucus When Coughing

Editor's note: If you are experiencing the presence of blood in the mucus, please seek medical attention immediately for a medical evaluation and guidance.

While I was on our community forums today, I read about someone being concerned about blood in their mucus, so I thought others might be wondering as well, so I thought I'd share some reasons for this. These are not to scare anyone but to make you aware. Here is the link to the forum if you would like to read it and add your experience to the comments.

Potential causes of the presence of blood in mucus

Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood. Most times, it may be nothing too serious, depending on the situation.1

Here are some reasons a person could have some bleeding in their mucus:2

  • COPD
  • Excessive coughing
  • Bronchitis: inflammation of the bronchi
  • Bronchiectasis: damage to the airways
  • Bronchoscopy: a scope that can explore the lungs
  • Inhaled foreign objects: this could be anything from food, chemicals, environment, etc.
  • Use of anticoagulants: blood thinners
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Complications of Lupas
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary edema: buildup of fluid in the lungs
  • Pulmonary embolism: blood clot in the lungs
  • Tuberculous
  • Vasculitis: blood vessel inflammation)
  • Chest trauma
  • Lung cancer
  • Hemophilia or other bleeding disorders

I have had this happen to me a few times, and I know it can get scary, especially if you are not sure why it is happening. One time, I had more blood than usual after I had a bad coughing spell. I didn’t cough it up at that moment, but every time after that, for a few days, there was blood in my sputum.

I was alarmed by this and talked to my nurse a few times after it happened. She assured me that it was normal and that I would be okay.

It happened a few more times with more blood, which scared me, so I sent pictures to my nurse. She still assured me that it was fine and to let her know if it happened more than that amount, which at the time I thought was a lot. If this happens to you, please seek medical attention.

Seeking medical attention

That brings me to the question: Should I go to the ER if I’m coughing up blood?

Seek immediate medical attention if you’re coughing up more than a few teaspoons of blood, if you’ve been coughing up blood longer than a week, or if other symptoms accompany your cough, including:2

  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath

If coughing up large amounts of blood, do not drive yourself to the hospital, but have someone else drive you. Coughing up blood in these volumes can cause airway obstruction and infiltration of the blood into your lungs, leading to more serious complications.2

I hope this has helped to explain if and when we need to seek help about blood in our mucus, and I hope it hasn't scared you but that you are more informed.

If you have any questions or comments, please share them below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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