What causes blood tinged sputum? 25 possible conditions

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Definition

Blood-tinged sputum expectorated mucous matter from the airways (lungs, nose, mouth or upper airways) that is tinged or streaked with blood. The blood can be either bright red or dark red in color.

Alternative Names

Blood-streaked sputum, sputum contains blood.

Synopsis

Blood-tinged sputum is distinguished from frank hemoptysis—or coughing up blood without or with very little sputum—which can be a potentially life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention. Sputum that is streaked with blood may be due to something as benign as irritation of upper-airway passages due to dry ambient air, or it may a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as pneumonia or a blood clot in the lung, especially if accompanied by other symptoms.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Bronchitis
  • Nosebleed
  • Laryngitis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Acute mountain sickness
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Goodpasture syndrome
  • Hookworm infections
  • Legionnaire’s disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Non-small cell carcinoma
  • Parrot fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Trauma
  • Dehydration or dry environmental conditions

Diagnosis and Treatment

It will be important for your doctor to determine that blood is indeed originating from the respiratory tract. A complete history and physical examination will be required, along with diagnostic studies such as a chest x-ray and sputum culture and sensitivity. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

Call your provider if:

Blood-tinged sputum is accompanied by:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Blood in the urine

Call 911 if:

Blood-tinged sputum becomes:

  • Air hunger or gasping for breath
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating profusely
  • Pain or numbness in the arm, hands or fingers
  • Pallor or blanching of the arm, hands or fingers
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Frank bleeding or coughing up copious blood or blood clots
Read More

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.

1

Lung Cancer Overview

Lung cancer is a cancer that originates in the lungs. Lung cancer often goes undetected in the early stages, since symptoms don't usually present themselves until the advanced stages of the disease.

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2

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure is a chronic condition that affects the four chambers of the heart. Early symptoms include fatigue and weight gain. Irregular heart beat and wheezing indicate a worsening.

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3

Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the bronchial tubes of the lungs are permanently damaged and enlarged, which causes infections and blockages in the airways, and gives the skin a blue appearance.

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4

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is bacteria that that attack your lungs. It is a potentially deadly disease, but it is curable if you get medical help right away and follow your doctor's instructions. The bacterium (germ...

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5

Pulmonary Edema

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Pulmonary edema is a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. When this occurs, the body struggles to get enough oxygen, often resulting in breathlessness, coughing, excessive sweating, and bluish skin or lips.

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6

Mitral Valve Stenosis

Your mitral valve is located on the left side of your heart, between two chambers, the atrium and the ventricle. Blood is pumped from the left atrium through the mitral valve and into the left ventricle on its way t...

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7

Pulmonary Embolism

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that affects blood flow to the lungs. It can damage part of the lung due to restricted blood flow, decrease blood oxygen. The most common symptom is shortness of breath.

Read more »

8

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is a type of throat cancer that affects the larynx. The larynx is your voice box and it contains cartilage and muscles that help you talk. This type of cancer can damage your voice. When not treate...

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9

Chronic Bronchitis

Your bronchial tubes are responsible for delivering air to your lungs. When these tubes become inflamed, mucus can build up. The coughing and shortness of breath this causes is known as bronchitis. People often develo...

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10

Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema) occurs in high altitudes, especially when exercising. A lack of oxygen can give the skin and lips a blue tinge.

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11

Getting a Handle on Aspiration Pneumonia

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of your lungs and bronchial tubes. It happens after you inhale foreign matter. It is also known as anaerobic pneumonia. This condition is caused by inhaling materials such a...

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12

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disorder that can lead to serious complications or even put your life at risk. It may cause severe problems in the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestine. It is an inherite...

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13

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. The infection may be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Pneumonia causes inflammation in your lung's air sacs, also referred to as alveoli. The alveoli fill with flui...

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14

Ebola Virus and Disease

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Ebola disease-also called Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Ebola fever-is a rare and often fatal illness that humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and gorillas) can contract. There have been several outbreaks o...

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15

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Coccidioidomycosis-also called valley fever-is a fungal infection that starts in the lungs, and in rare cases spreads to the rest of the body. According to the California Department of Health, approximately 150,00...

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16

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a part of the endocrine system. It is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat. It has a left lobe and a right lobe. The middle of the thyroid gland, where the lobes meet, is called th...

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17

Legionnaires' Disease

Legionnaires' disease is a serious type of lung infection, or pneumonia. It is caused by bacteria called Legionella. The bacteria and the disease were named following an outbreak of the infection at a Philadelphi...

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18

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells rapidly multiply and don't stop reproducing. The disease can develop anywhere in the body. Treatment is based on its location. When it originates in the lungs, it is lung cancer. Ther...

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19

Small Cell Lung Cancer

Your lungs are two sponge-like, air-filled organs located on either side of your chest. When you inhale, your lungs absorb oxygen and send it to the bloodstream for use by your cells. Carbon dioxide, a waste product o...

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20

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially fatal contagious disease that can affect almost any part of the body but is mainly an infection of the lungs.

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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