Hemoptysis

Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood. It can be caused by many things, including minor illnesses like bronchitis. It can also be an early sign of a more serious illness, like a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), cancer, tuberculosis, or pneumonia.

Less common causes of hemoptysis can be hard to diagnose in an emergency room or a clinic. More testing will be needed if the symptoms continue.

Home care

  • Stay away from cigarette smoke. Smoke irritates the bronchial passages.

  • Unless you are taking daily aspirin to prevent stroke or heart attack, don't take aspirin or products that contain aspirin. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you should continue the aspirin or when you should restart it if you develop hemoptysis. Aspirin affects how easily the blood clots. Medicines that prevent clotting may make hemoptysis worse.

  • If you have a lung infection, drink extra fluid. This will help loosen lung secretions.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan may help reduce coughing. Note: Check with your provider before taking dextromethorphan or other OTC medicines if you have a chronic illness, are pregnant, or take daily prescribed medicines.

  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic, take it until it's all gone. Take it even if you're feeling better after only a few days.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as advised by your provider

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Coughing up more blood

  • Trouble breathing, wheezing, or pain with breathing

  • Chest pain or chest pressure

  • Fainting or losing consciousness

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Feeling weak or dizzy

  • Feeling of doom

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