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What are the Most Common Causes of Blood in the Sputum?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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Blood in the sputum, medically known as hemoptysis, is a term used when a person spits up blood, usually accompanied by mucus. This often indicates that there is some kind of problem with the lungs, and a medical evaluation is indicated. Medical conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, or tuberculosis often involve this symptom. In some cases, blood in the sputum may be an indicator of heart failure. Treatment for this symptom relies on obtaining an accurate diagnosis so that the direct cause of the development of blood in the sputum can be treated.

Pneumonia is a common cause of blood in the sputum. This condition is most frequently caused by a bacterial infections, although viral forms of pneumonia may also occur. Symptoms often include fever, chills, and shortness of breath. Chest pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite are also common. Treatment for pneumonia may include over-the-counter or prescription medications, rest, and increased fluid intake.

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Another common cause of blood in the sputum is a lung condition known as bronchitis. Bronchitis is the term used for inflammation of the air passages that lead to the lungs and most often occurs as a result of a viral respiratory infection. Symptoms of bronchitis may include chest pain or discomfort, fever, and shortness of breath. The mucus associated with bronchitis may be green or a pink color if tinged with blood. Bronchitis treatment involves self-care with over-the-counter medications, rest, and proper fluid intake while the virus runs its course.

Tuberculosis is a contagious lung infection caused by bacteria. Without proper treatment, this infection can spread to other areas of the body. In addition to blood in the sputum, other symptoms of tuberculosis may include fever, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. Treatment for tuberculosis can be difficult, and a combination of medications may need to be taken for several months. Patients with severe symptoms may have to be hospitalized for treatment.

A heart condition known as congestive heart failure can sometimes cause blood in the sputum. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is no longer able to pump a sufficient amount of blood to the other organs of the body. Symptoms of this condition may include weight gain, heart palpitations, and rapid pulse. Treatment for congestive heart failure typically involves lifestyle changes and the use of prescription medications, although a heart transplant is often necessary.

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