Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood. There are many causes for this, including minor illnesses like bronchitis. Hemoptysis 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 department 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 readily the blood clots. Medicines that prevent clotting may make hemoptysis worse.

  • If you have a lung infection, drinking extra fluid will help loosen secretions in the lungs.

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

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

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

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

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

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Coughing up an increased amount of blood

  • Trouble breathing, wheezing, or pain with breathing

  • Chest pain or chest pressure

  • Fainting or losing consciousness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Weakness or dizziness

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