Coughing up blood is the spitting up of blood or bloody mucus from the lungs and throat (respiratory tract).
Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood from the respiratory tract.
Hemoptysis; Spitting up blood; Bloody sputum
Coughing up blood is not the same as bleeding from the mouth, throat, or gastrointestinal tract.
Blood that comes up with a cough often looks bubbly because it is mixed with air and mucus. It is most often bright red, although it may be rust-colored. Sometimes the mucus contains only streaks of blood.
The outlook depends on what is causing the problem. Most people do well with treatment to treat the symptoms and the underlying disease. People with severe hemoptysis may die.
A number of conditions, diseases, and medical tests may make you cough up blood. These include:
Medicines that stop coughing (cough suppressants) may help if the problem comes from heavy coughing. These medicines may lead to airway blockages, so check with your health care provider before using them.
Keep track of how long you cough up blood, and how much blood is mixed with the mucus. Call your provider any time you cough up blood, even if you do not have any other symptoms.
Get medical help right away if you cough up blood and have:
In an emergency, your provider will give you treatments to control your condition. The provider will then ask you questions about your cough, such as:
The provider will do a complete physical exam and check your chest and lungs. Tests that may be done include:
Brown CA. Hemoptysis. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 21.
Swartz MH. The chest. In: Swartz MH, ed. Textbook of Physical Diagnosis: History and Examination. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 13.
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.