When should I be concerned about blood in my mucus?


It is naturally frightening for all of us to see blood in our sputum. We might think that we are suffering from a scary disease. Coughing up blood is usually called hemoptysis among doctors. Some of it is not that serious and requires no medical attention. However, a bloody sputum (kahak berdarah) might also come from some serious diseases. In this article, we will look at some common conditions that cause hemoptysis and whether we should be concerned or not about it.

1) Prolonged severe cough

Most of the time, a bloody sputum might indicate something that is not serious. Most of the people cough up blood in their sputum after a prolonged severe cough. This type of cough is often caused by a virus infection. Symptoms will include mild fever, runny nose and cough. With a prolonged cough, corrosion inside the airway will occur. This will cause bleeding, which may mix with the sputum produced by the virus infection. The blood is usually bright red in colour, indicating it comes from an injury inside the airway. This infection can be treated with antiviral and supportive treatment.

2) Nose trauma

Any injury in the nose can cause blood to appear in your mucus. Pricking the nose too hard is one example of trauma to the nose. There may be fresh blood in your mucus, but it is usually minimal depending on the extent of the injury. This condition is not serious and normally needs no medical attention.

3) Pneumonia

This is a chest infection that is usually caused by bacteria. A pneumonia patient will have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is the most common disease for hemoptysis. If it is not treated, it will cause some serious complications such as lung abscess or pleural effusion (fluid in the lungs). Hence, it is very important to seek immediate treatment. Patients will be treated in a hospital setting with antibiotics being the main treatment.

4) Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis or famously called TB, is another type of chest infection. It is a dangerous disease as it is contagious and can spread easily to other people through tiny air droplets. Patients with TB will have symptoms such as fever, cough, night sweat and shortness of breath. Similar to pneumonia, it can lead to other health complications if it is not treated. Normally, these patients will be isolated in a TB room to ensure minimal contact and treated accordingly.

5) Bronchiectasis

This is a condition where the bronchial tubes in your lungs are damaged, thickened and widened. It is caused by any type of injury that happens to the lungs. One main culprit is cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening hereditary disease. The symptoms of bronchiectasis include cough, hemoptysis, shortness of breath and also chest pain. The treatment for bronchiectasis will depend on the type of injury involved.

These are the common causes that cause blood in the mucus. Other less common causes include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lung cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Taking anticoagulants

If you notice that there is blood in your mucus, you must quickly meet your doctor. Your doctor will conduct some tests first in order to come out with a diagnosis. The tests may include physical examination, blood test and chest x-ray. If the condition is caused by a serious disease, you will need to undergo a treatment. Treatment given will depend on the type of case. Sometimes, no cause can be found, and it will never happen again. No treatment is needed in this type of case.