Have you been coughing up blood in phlegm in the morning? The production of mucus by the mucus membranes is basically a protective mechanism employed by the body to get rid of the foreign substances that enter our system. When any foreign invader enters our body, the immune system responds to the threat by expelling the congealed mucus from the lungs or bronchial passages by way of cough. Coughing is a reflex action that is triggered when the airways are irritated by foreign substances. The forceful exhalation of air helps in clearing the throat by expelling congealed mucus or phlegm from the lungs. Exposure to environmental irritants is one of the common reasons that may trigger cough. While mucus is clear under normal circumstances, its color may change to green, yellow or brown. It could even accumulate in the lungs. This may make one susceptible to an infection in the lungs.
At times, phlegm could get traces of blood while passing through the respiratory tract. The expulsion or coughing up of blood-stained phlegm from the respiratory tract is medically referred to as Hemoptysis. Bleeding in any part of the respiratory tract could be the reason why one may spitting up blood-stained sputum. The less serious cause of this condition could be a nosebleed. This may occur when blood drains from the back of the nose to the throat. However, a person who has been coughing up blood-stained sputum could even be suffering from pathogenic infections of the airways or the lungs. So, those of you who often notice streaks of blood in the sputum must get themselves medically examined. Here's some information on why one may end up coughing up significant amount of blood-tinged phlegm in the morning.
What Causes Hemoptysis?
Bleeding along the respiratory tract is one of the most common factors responsible for this condition. The mucus lining of the airways could get irritated due to recurrent coughing. The blood vessels that line the respiratory tract could get ruptured due to recurrent violent coughing that may occur when one suffers from a severe throat infection or a respiratory tract infection. This could lead to hemoptysis. Here are some of the most common contributory factors.
Inflamed Airways: Chronic respiratory infections such as bronchitis, bronchiectasis or asthma could be the contributory factors for hemoptysis. Bronchitis refers to the inflammation of the membranes that line the bronchial tubes. The air that we inhale passes from the windpipe, which branches into right and left bronchial tubes that carry the inhaled air to the right and left lung. When these tubes become inflamed or swollen, these produce larger production of mucus. This causes one to cough. Heavy smokers are more likely to suffer from chronic bronchitis. Bronchiectasis is another condition that is characterized by an abnormal dilation of the airways. This is brought on by the destruction of the muscle and elastic tissue of the airways which in turn may result from recurrent infection or inflammation of the airways. Asthma is another respiratory condition wherein airways become inflamed and constricted due to exposure to allergens. Asthma is characterized by coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Lung Conditions: Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lung tissue), cystic fibrosis (buildup of excessive mucus in the lungs), pneumonia (pathogenic lung infection), pulmonary embolism (blockage of pulmonary artery by a blood clot in lung), emphysema (progressive lung disease marked by decreased lung function), tuberculosis (bacterial lung infection), lung abscess (collection of pus within inflamed lung tissue) and lung cancer (a malignant growth in the lung that is caused by uncontrolled or abnormal cell division) are some of the serious lung conditions that could be responsible for blood-tinged sputum.
Other Causes: Besides medical conditions associated with the respiratory tract or the lungs, cardiovascular diseases could also be contributory factors. Blood-stained sputum could be a symptom of mitral stenosis (narrowing of the mitral valve located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart), mitral regurgitation (backflow of blood from the left ventricle to the left atrium due to defect in mitral valve) or congestive heart failure (inability of the heart to pump sufficient amounts of blood that must be supplied to other parts of the body). Hemoptysis could also be attributed to medical conditions that affect the ability of the blood to clot. Prolonged use of certain drugs could also be a contributory factor.
Treatment of Hemoptysis
Since several medical conditions could give rise to this condition, the treatment options will depend on the underlying cause. If you notice streaks of blood in sputum, consult a doctor immediately. The color of the expectorated matter may also help in determining the nature of the lung disease. If you are experiencing other symptoms such as breathing difficulty, tightness in chest, cough and rapid breathing, make it a point to reveal such symptoms to your doctor. Doctors will perform blood tests, a chest X-ray or imaging procedures such as bronchoscopy or CAT scan to determine the location of bleeding. Abnormal growths can be detected with the help of imaging procedures. If a tumor is detected, a biopsy may be conducted to determine the nature of the tumor.
Once the doctors are able to identify the underlying cause, they may recommend the use of medicines or other treatment options as they deem fit for treating the condition. Antibiotics would be prescribed for treating a bacterial infection. Expectorants are usually prescribed so as to facilitate expulsion of congealed mucus. The use of bronchodilators would be recommended for asthmatic individuals. Extensive treatment would be required for serious lung conditions. You must also follow all the precautionary measures to prevent any further complications. Since smoking puts one at an increased risk of developing lung infections and diseases, those who are heavy smokers must make an effort to quit smoking. Do make sure that you stay away from allergens. Keep yourself well-hydrated and follow a healthy diet in order to strengthen your immune system.
Though one may be coughing up blood-stained sputum owing to less serious causes such as a nosebleed, it would be best to consult your doctor to rule out the possibility of chronic respiratory conditions. If you have been diagnosed with a serious disease, comply with the guidelines regarding drug dosage and do make the necessary lifestyle-related changes to prevent the recurrence of such ailments in future.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.