Coughing up blood can be an alarming sign, but not all cases require immediate medical attention. It can happen from time to time and is often a result of exposure to irritants such as dust or smoke. However, it could also be an indicator of something more serious, so it’s important to understand the causes and when you should seek medical attention for coughing up blood.
What Causes Coughing Up Blood?
Coughing up blood is medically referred to as hemoptysis. Generally speaking, it is caused by irritation or inflammation in the lungs or airways that lead to the lungs. Common causes include bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung cancer and lung abscesses. Other less common causes include trauma to the chest wall, stomach acid backing up into the throat (GERD), allergies or asthma attacks with associated coughing.
Sometimes coughing up small amounts of bright red blood is simply due to irritation from inhaling a foreign object such as cigarette smoke or dust particles. In this case, an individual may experience a single episode of coughing up blood that goes away quickly and does not return. In other cases however, individuals may experience repeated episodes over several days and/or weeks that are accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or weight loss.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If you experience any amount of coughing up blood more than once then you should seek medical attention right away as this could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition such as lung cancer or TB.
Additionally, if you experience shortness of breath along with the coughing up blood then you should also seek prompt medical care as this could be indicative of an infection in your lungs or airways that will require antibiotics for treatment. Finally if your cough persists for more than 3 weeks without resolution then your doctor may order imaging tests such as an X-ray or CT scan to look for any abnormalities in your lungs that might be causing your symptoms.
All in all, coughing up blood can have several potential causes and some cases do not require medical attention whereas others do require prompt treatment to avoid further complications. If you experience any amount of coughing up blood more than once then you should contact your doctor immediately and get checked out as soon as possible so they can diagnose the cause and recommend appropriate treatment options if needed.
If you experience difficulty breathing along with the hemoptysis then make sure to seek professional help right away since this could indicate a potentially life-threatening infection in your lungs or airways that needs swift treatment with antibiotics before becoming worse. By understanding what causes coughing up blood and when it should trigger an urgent visit to the doctor’s office we can arm ourselves with knowledge so that we are better prepared should our health ever take a turn for the worse!