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Blood in Mucus – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Several underlying conditions may have lead to the presence of blood in mucus. Coughing up blood-tinged mucus or sputum is medically known as hemoptysis. It can actually be frightening for you to see bloody mucus. Presence of blood in the mucus could have either mild or severe causes. Regardless of the primary culprit for the appearance of blood in the mucus, still this needs prompt medical attention. Bloody mucus may originate from the different portions of the respiratory tract including nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, voice box, trachea, gullet or the esophagus, bronchi, lungs and even the stomach.

It is equally important to differentiate the characteristics of bloody mucus coming from the respiratory tract and from that of the gastrointestinal tract. Bloody mucus coming from the respiratory tract usually has a bubbly characteristic due to the mixture of air and this assumes a bright-red color though sometimes this appears to be rusty. At times, few specks of blood may be present in it. Do not right away get alarmed when you have noticed some streaks of blood in the mucus. Instead, what you have to do is to make a trip to your doctor’s clinic and have your condition evaluated. You will be learning more about blood in mucus in this article.

Blood in Mucus Symptoms

There may be clusters of symptoms that may be present aside from coughing up bloody sputum. The clinical manifestations would usually depend on the underlying cause. Remember, coughing up bloody mucus does not only indicate a respiratory disorder for this may also be suggestive that something’s wrong with the digestive or circulatory system. The symptoms commonly present along with bloody mucus include:

  • Excessive cough
  • Congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

It is imperative that you consult your doctor right away when dizziness, changes in sensorium, difficulty of breathing and other danger signs are noted.

Blood in Mucus Causes

Several diseases may cause development of blood in the mucus. However, the majority of these conditions involve the respiratory tract. This is according to the research conducted by the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Coughing up bloody sputum or mucus does not always indicate a serious condition for these may also have benign causes. Here are a few common causes of blood in mucus:

Acute Bronchitis

This respiratory disease can either be caused by bacteria or viruses and one of its rare symptoms is coughing up bloody mucus. In acute bronchitis, there’s an inflammation involving the large airways including that of the trachea. However, the primary reason for coughing up of bloody sputum in acute bronchitis is the injury to the smaller blood vessels. This may also involve nasopharyngeal and upper respiratory tract infections which further injure the airways leading to bloody mucus.


Tuberculosis can be among the primary reasons for the development of bloody mucus. This is according to the Mayo Clinic. This condition is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Though this is considered to be highly resistant to antibiotic therapy, this can still be treated in the long run. The recovery of an individual from tuberculosis would basically depend on the capacity of his immune system to combat the disease. Aside from bloody sputum, other symptoms such as fever, night sweats and weight loss may also be present.

Cystic Fibrosis

This is considered to be a hereditary disease that may be passed on from one generation to another. Cystic fibrosis leads to the excessive buildup of gooey mucus along the different areas of the body including the lungs and the stomach. At times, a person with cystic fibrosis also has the tendency to cough up bloody mucus.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism develops when a blood clot forms especially at the lower extremities and takes its route back into the respiratory system then finally lodges into the lungs especially at the small arteries. This is considered to be a serious condition, according to the Mayo Clinic. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency which causes an individual to expel bright-red bloody sputum. People suffering from pulmonary embolism should be brought to the nearest emergency department immediately because this condition is extremely life-threatening especially when just being left untreated.

These are just some of the causes of bloody mucus. Undergoing certain diagnostic procedures especially those involving the respiratory tract such that of bronchoscopy may also cause the sputum to be blood-tinged.

Blood in Mucus Treatment

Varying modes of treatment are actually involved when coughing up bloody sputum. However, the goal of treatment is entirely aimed at its underlying causes. Some of the common treatments for bloody mucus include:

  • Antibiotic therapy – Antibacterial medications are especially indicated for underlying infections such that of pneumonia and bronchitis cases.
  • Bronchoscopy – Bronchoscopy serves both a diagnostic procedure and at the same time treatment for coughing up bloody mucus. Through bronchoscopy the presence of bleeding along the respiratory tract is being viewed and once the source of bleeding has been found, ways to stop bleeding can be done.
  • Laser therapy – The presence of bleeding tissues can be removed through laser therapy.
  • Surgery – Certain types of surgery may also be done to correct the presence of bleeding.
  • Blood transfusion – Whenever the bleeding has been massive, blood transfusion is usually indicated to prevent anemia and even hypovolemic shock.

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