Blood phlegm can be alarming, but isn’t usually serious if you’re young and healthy. However, it can also happen in older people, particularly those who smoke. Blood in phlegm is known as hemoptysis.
Blood in phlegm may mean that blood is may be from your lungs and is often the result of too much coughing or a lung infection.
If the blood contains food particles, is dark or looks like coffee grounds, it may be from the stomach or intestines. This needs immediate medical attention.
Blood with little or no sputum needs immediate medical attention.
Types of Hemoptysis
The common types of hemoptysis are blood-tinged sputum, usually harmless, pure coughing up blood caused by vascular rupture, rusty sputum that contains bacteria and caused by lobar pneumonia, gelatinous blood sputum, the combination of blood, mucus and bacteria and lastly the pink frothy sputum caused by acute pulmonary or heart disease.
You should call your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms such as coughing up mostly blood, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, sweating, rapid heart rate, chest pain or unexplained weight loss.
Your doctor will first ask you whether you have other signs and symptoms such as cough, fever, flu or difficulty of breathing.
It’s also important for them to know how long you’ve had blood in phlegm. They will ask what the sputum looks like, how many times you expel it in the day, and the amount of blood in the phlegm.
They may also order a chest CT scan to view abnormalities in the chest and lungs. If there are masses, the doctor may order a biopsy. They’ll get a sample of tissue from your lungs and send it to a lab for testing and evaluation.
Treatment will rely on what the underlying condition is causing it.
Treatments for blood-tinged sputum can include oral antibiotic, drinking more water or surgery to treat tumors or blood clots. Cough suppressants may also be given.