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Hemoptysis

Hemoptysis is the coughing up of blood or bloody sputum. Coughing blood is a serious condition and always warrant a visit to the doctor to ascertain the cause. The doctor will take a thorough history and do a physical examination, followed by a chest X-ray. Subsequent tests eg CT scan and flexile bronchoscopy depends on the likely cause.

Possible Causes

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Mycetoma (Aspergillosus)
  • Metastatic cancer (cancer from elsewhere spreading to the lung)
  • Acute pulmonary embolism (blood clots to the lungs)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Use of anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Systemic Lupus (SLE)

If hemoptysis is severe, patients will be admitted to the hospital for further workup. Massive hemoptysis is a medical emergency and patients may sometimes need to be managed in the ICU. The history will sometimes give a clue to the underlying disease eg recurrent hemoptysis over a period of years is suggestive of bronchiectasis while hemoptysis associated with fever is often due to pulmonary tuberculosis. Treatment is targeted towards seeking a long term solution to the underlying diagnosis.