ZocdocAnswersWhat should I do if I coughed up blood?

Question

What should I do if I coughed up blood?

Had a bad coughing fit the other day after I swallowed some water. At the end of the coughing fit a lot of fluid and some blood came up. Should I go to the doctor or did I just cough too hard? What does the blood mean?

Answer

Coughing up blood (also known as hemoptysis) can be a very scary thing. There are many different possible causes of hemoptysis. In your particular case, I think that you probably broke a small blood vessel from coughing too hard. This resulted in you coughing up a small amount of blood. This type of problem is most likely meaningless, unless it is associated with another lung condition. If you are otherwise healthy, then it is probably not a big issue. There are other causes of hemoptysis that I should mention. Often a cause of coughing up blood is a nose bleed. Blood seeps down into the back of the throat and is coughed up. It is often hard to tell where it came from. Other causes of hemoptysis include lung cancer, bad lung infections such as pneumonia, and a disease of the lower airways called bronchiectasis. Given that you had this episode after coughing up some water, I do not think these are likely possibilities. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. If your doctor is concerned about this episode and wants more investigation done, then you may get a referral to see a pulmonologist.

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

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