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Hemoptysis: Types, Causes, Tests & Treatment

August 5th, 2013 | Posted by Ibrar in First Aid Programs

Hemoptysis or coughing up blood may be due to a wide range of lung conditions. Coughing up blood comes from the respiratory tract, either the Hemoptysislungs or the throat. Blood present in cough may range from frothy to pink or bright red or mixed with sputum. Coughing up blood is not always caused by a serious underlying disease. It is fairly common to produce a sputum tinged with little blood from time to time and does not usually connote call for alarm. Emergency medical services should be called if coughing up blood occurs frequently or blood appears in large quantities.

Types of Hemoptysis

                The common types of hemoptysis are mentioned below.

  • Blood-tinged sputum (very common)
    • Usually harmless
    • In the form of blood streaks or spots or clots in white mucus or yellow purulent sputum
    • Caused by pneumonia, bronchitis or laryngitis
    • Pure coughing up blood (very common)
      • In the form of blood without sputum
      • Caused by vascular rupture, bronchial hemorrhage, pulmonary tuberculosis, bronchial tuberculosis, etc.
      • Large amount of coughed up blood
        • Caused by vascular rupture and bronchial hemorrhage
        • May lead to immense bleeding
        • Rusty sputum (prune-juice sputum)
          • In the form of blood or blood pigments in reddish-brown sputum (similar to prune juice in appearance)
          • Contains bacteria, mucus and sloughed necrotic lung tissues
          • Caused by lobar pneumonia
          • Gelatinous blood sputum (currant-jelly sputum)
            • In the form of brick red jelly-like blood in thick, bloody, mucoid sputum
            • Characteristics of sputum is due to combination of endobronchial plug of blood, mucus, debris and bacteria
            • Caused by Klebsiella pneumonia
            • Pink frothy sputum
              • In the form of pink blood in frothy (air) sputum
              • Frothy appearance is due to mixing with secretions of alveoli
              • Cause by acute pulmonary edema or heart disease (resulting to acute left heart failure)

Causes of Hemoptysis

Many potential diseases can lead to hemoptysis as seen above. Some of the other causes of hemoptysis not mentioned above include:

  • Bronchiectasis
  • Tumors in the lungs
  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Anticoagulation medications
  • Use of cocaine
  • Trauma, such as gunshot wound

Tests for Hemoptysis

Many tests can be performed to determine the bleeding rate and if there poses danger to breathing. These tests will determine the cause for hemoptysis:

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Chest CT scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • Lung biopsy
  • Lung scan
  • Sputum culture and smear
  • Blood chemistry profile
  • Coagulation tests
  • And many more

Treatment for Hemoptysis

Treatment will always vary depending on the underlying cause of hemoptysis. Some of the most common treatment includes:

  • Antibiotics for tuberculosis and pneumonia
  • Chemotherapy for lung cancer
  • Steroids for inflammatory conditions
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Bronchial artery embolization
  • If intense and fatal, surgery.

No direct remedy can be given to treat hemoptysis. Although understanding hemoptysis can aid when taking first aid training, as knowledge on these matters can help recognize symptoms, especially when discussing airway obstruction.

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