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Hemoptysis: definition, causes and associated symptoms

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

There are several conditions and conditions in our body that can present bleeding, which automatically represents a red alert signal for everyone, before which we instinctively seek immediate and effective responses. Among the symptoms that involves the expulsion of blood can be found hemoptysis, where this vital fluid is present in sputum (mucus), saliva and coughing, coming from the lungs and respiratory tract, never referring to bleeding from nose).

Learn about this particular sign, hemoptysis, in the following FastlyHealarticle : definition, causes and associated symptoms that help determine the causative disease and its severity.

Definition of hemoptysis

Hemoptysis is the name given to sputum expectoration with fresh blood , and this sign, although it may originate from benign or minor post-operative causes, is in many cases an important indicator of problems in the respiratory system. It depends on how much the volume of blood is expelled, hemoptysis is classified in various degrees :

  1. Mild hemoptysis : less than 100ml of blood per day.
  2. Moderate hemoptysis : 100 to 500ml per day.
  3. Severe hemoptysis : more than 500ml per day.
  4. Exsanguinating hemoptysis : in these cases some severe hemorrhages are classified and can exceed 200 ml of blood per hour or 1000 per day.

The expectoration is not always exclusively blood. In some cases, sputum may appear with only some traces of blood, while in other circumstances it may appear in different shades of pink and even with pus. It should also be made clear that hemoptysis can be one of several signs of the conditions that cause it, and that a person produces sputum with little blood does not mean that they may still have a dangerous condition that requires prompt attention.

To confirm that there is a hemoptysis, it is necessary to ensure that said blood is not of nasal origin , since the blood of the hemoptysis comes from the lungs and at most from the glottis. Another source of blood origin that can cause confusion is the digestive system, with the range of possible causes varying if so.

Causes of coughing up blood

The causes of hemoptysis are highly variable. According to the clinical history and the diagnostic results of the patient, the following risk factors are mainly found :

  • Smoking
  • Environmental pollution.
  • Accidents
  • Congenital heart disease.
  • Congenital lung diseases.
  • Autoimmune pathologies.

In turn, three mechanisms are distinguished by which this condition can occur:

  • Acute or chronic pro-inflammatory processes that affect the blood conduits of the respiratory system, by generating difficulties for the flow of blood (valve stenosis) or weakness of the blood vessels, thus becoming prone to rupture and cause bleeding.
  • Heart damage that increases blood pressure, either suddenly or continuously.
  • Neoangioplasias , cancer cells and / or tumors.

So, depending on the predominant mechanism and risk factors, hemoptysis will be a sign associated with some of the following diseases :

  • Bronchitis .
  • Bronchiectasis: abnormal dilation of the bronchi.
  • Bronchial adenoma.
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumonia.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Lung cancer .
  • Vasculitis.
  • Granulomatosis con vasculitis.
  • Lupus erythematosus.
  • Anticoagulant drugs.
  • Bronchoscopy with biopsy.
  • Cocaine and other inhalations.
  • Aspergillosis and fungal and parasitic infections (very rare).
  • Trauma

Hemoptysis: accompanying alarm symptoms

Hemoptysis is not a disease but a sign and, consequently, the entire disease must be treated according to the case so that the cough with blood disappears and with it the risk factors that it indicates. However, the following signs and symptoms may be the confirming sign that it is not benign hemoptysis but a more serious problem:

  • Moderate or large amounts of blood.
  • Loss of body mass in a short time: associated with neoplasms (cancer) and tuberculosis.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Chest pain : either in physical activity or rest, with pain in the lungs or in the heart.
  • Fever.
  • Dizziness
  • Blood in the urine .
  • Blood in the stool .

Hemoptysis: diagnostic protocol

In addition to the consideration of the accompanying symptoms, the antecedents and risk factors that we already mentioned at the beginning, the diagnosis is directed to the diseases that seem to be the cause of the problem, and depending on the same, one or more of the following exams :

  • Chest X-ray.
  • Sputum analysis.
  • Broncoscopia.
  • Electrocardiogram.
  • Transthoracic echocardiogram.
  • Hematology.
  • Blood cultures and serology.
  • ENT consultation.
  • Coagulation tests.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Hemoptysis: definition, causes and associated symptoms , we recommend that you enter our Lung and respiratory tract category .

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