Hemoptysis or spitting up mucus tinted with blood can be frightening. This blood may appear in large or small quantities and may develop into an acute condition over time. Coughing up bloody mucus could be a sign of serious conditions like bronchitis, tumors or lung cancer so it is important to investigate these symptoms when they appear. You may also notice blood when blowing your nose which can be a sign that the damage is not restricted to the respiratory area. Blood in mucus should not be taken lightly, both causes call for serious attention.
Blood in Sputum
Most causes that lead to blood in the mucus are signs that something is causing damage to the respiratory system that should be investigated by a doctor right away.
- Actinomycosis lung abscess
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Blastomycosis lung abscess
- Bronchogenic carcinoma
- Cognestive heart failure
- Goodpasture's syndrome
- Lung abscess
- Lung cancer
- Lupus pneumonitis
- Mitral stenosis
- Nasopharyngeal bleeding
- Pulmonary edema
- Pulmonary embolism
- Pulmonary infarction
- Pulmonary tuberculosis
- Upper gastrointestinal bleeding
- Upper respiratory inflammation
- Wegener's granulomatosis
Hemoptysis may cause symptoms in addition to blood appearing in the mucus. These symptoms may increase in severity and can help you determine the specific cause of your discomfort.
- Blood is bright red in color
- Breathing rapidly
- Breaths come out in short intervals
- Chest pain
- Coughing incessantly
- Frothy or semi-coagulated-looking blood
Coughing up blood may be a sign of a more serious medical condition. If you have blood in your mucus for longer than a week, your symptoms come and go, your condition is severe or your condition gets progressively worse, contact your doctor immediately. You should also seek medical assistance if you have soaking sweats at night, chest pain, shortness of breath when performing your normal activity level, weight loss or a fever over 101 degrees. Those that require treatment for coughing up blood are typically hospitalized until the bleeding passes and the cause for these symptoms can be identified.
- Embolization. Medication may be injected into the damaged blood vessels to prevent additional bleeding.
- Postural drainage. Your doctor can help you into a position that will help you spit out the blood rather than breathing it in.
- Anti-tussives. In order to prevent the blood vessels from bursting because of severe coughing your doctor will prescribe medication that can help to control these symptoms. These medications may be administered along with antibiotics to clear an infection that might be causing damage.
- Blood transfusion. If the patient is suffering from an excessive amount of blood loss, blood transfusions can be administered intravenously. Be sure to visit a safe blood bank to reduce your risk of infection during your transfusion.
- Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators can be administered to open the air passages to the lungs in patients suffering from bronchiectasis, arteriovenous malformation or those that have recently undergone lung surgery. This will bring up the blood so you can breathe freely.
- Oxygen supply. A mask or tube may be applied to the nostrils to supply oxygen to the body. In some cases an endotracheal tube will be applied to supply oxygen to the windpipe to clear the airway.
Blood in Nasal Mucus
You may experience bloody discharge in the mucus from your nose due to upper nose bleeding or lower nose bleeding. Lower nose bleeding refers to bleeding from the lower septum that acts as partition between the two cavities and tissues of the nose. In general you will only need to seek medical attention for lower nose bleeding if it will not stop.
- Bloody mucus in the nose is commonly caused by nasal allergies or an infection but it may also be caused by injury or blunt force trauma to this area.
- An upper respiratory infection may cause the mucus membranes to function excessively, leading to you constantly blowing your nose and irritating your nasal passages. This can lead to spots of blood in the mucus.
- In some cases a lack of humidity in the air can irritate the nose, causing the nasal passages to become inflamed. This increases the risk that the vessels in this area will become enlarged or bleed, leading to blood appearing in your mucus when you blow your nose.
- Sinusitis, nasal tumors, lung diseases or conditions of the nasal septum can also cause blood to appear in the mucus.
However, in most cases blood appearing in the mucus is harmless and will disappear once the condition causing it to appear has faded.
- Firmly pinching your nostril between the thumb and index finger for 10-15 minutes should stop the bleeding from your nose.
- Keep your head high during this time to prevent further bleeding and to encourage the blood to clot.
- Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the nose will help prevent more bleeding from occurring.
- If your nose is dry, swab the inside of the nostrils with a thick lubricant to prevent additional bleeding.
If your nose continues to bleed for more than 15 minutes, contact your doctor immediately.