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Coughing up blood

  • Definition

    Coughing up blood is the spitting up of blood or bloody mucus from the lungs and throat (respiratory tract).

    Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood from the respiratory tract.

    Alternative Names

    Hemoptysis; Spitting up blood; Bloody sputum


    Coughing up blood is not the same as bleeding from the mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract.

    Blood that comes up with a cough often looks bubbly because it is mixed with air and mucus. It is usually bright red, although it may be rust-colored. Sometimes the mucus may only contain streaks of blood.

    Common Causes

    A number of conditions, diseases, and medical tests may make you cough up blood, including:

    • Blood clot in the lung
    • Breathing blood into the lungs (pulmonary aspiration)
    • Bronchoscopy with biopsy
    • Bronchiectasis
    • Bronchitis
    • Cancer
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Inflammation of the blood vessels in the lung (vasculitis)
    • Injury to the arteries of the lungs
    • Irritation of the throat from violent coughing (small amounts of blood)
    • Pneumonia or other lung infections
    • Pulmonary edema
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus
    • Tuberculosis