ZocdocAnswersI coughed up a large ball of bloody mucus, what now?

Question

I coughed up a large ball of bloody mucus, what now?

I am a 19 year old caucasian male with no history of allergies or chronic illness. I've been running a fever with nasal congestion, sore throat, and body aches, as well as a headache. Today I went to my doctor because I was coughing up large globs of yellow thick mucus with blood in it. I was prescribed azithromycin (500mg today and 250mg for the next 4 days for 5 total doses.) And a few minutes ago I coughed up a large glob of bloody mucus, I mean it was really bloody almost the entire thing was blood and it was kind of clearish yellowish in the parts that weren't. My sore throat went away today but after coughing bouts and this bloody discharge it has come back.

Answer

I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling bad. It sounds, from your history, that you are probably dealing with a pneumonia, based on the fever, cough, and thick mucus production. Azithromycin is a good antibiotic that is often prescribed in this setting. Unfortunately, it can take a few days to really kick in and work, so you may not start to feel better right away. You should definitely stay in touch with your primary care doctor, because if you are still experiencing high fevers, shortness of breath, or other symptoms after a few days of good treatment, this may be an indication that the antibiotic is not working as expected. With a lung infection like pneumonia, the delicate inner lining of the lungs can become quite irritated, which leads to the blood streaks in the mucus that you cough up. Usually, in an otherwise healthy person with no underlying lung problems, this will resolve on its own. However, you should definitely keep an eye on the amount of blood, because if you begin to cough up pure blood (as opposed to blood in the mucus) this could be a sign of serious bleeding and would need emergency evaluation. Again, please continue working with your primary care doctor!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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