Coughing up blood

A symptom, medically known as haemoptysis, that is caused by rupture of a blood vessel in the air-ways, lungs, nose, or throat. The coughed-up blood may appear as brightred or rusty-brown streaks, clots in the sputum, a pinkish froth, or, more rarely, blood alone. In all cases, medical assessment is needed. Many disorders can cause haemoptysis. The most common are infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis; and congestion in and rupture of blood vessels in the lungs due to heart failure, mitral stenosis, or pulmonary embolism. A cancerous tumour can also produce haemoptysis by eroding the wall of a blood vessel. Investigations into coughing up blood include chest X-ray, and, in some cases, bronchoscopy. In about a 3rd of cases, no underlying cause is found. Treatment depends on the cause.


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