Most people are dreaded by the sight of their phlegm laced with blood. This is because phlegm with blood in it is most often associated with serious illnesses. However, this is not always the case and phlegm with blood in it may sometimes indicate a nosebleed. On the other hand, numerous diseases and disorders are accompanied with blood streaked phlegm.
How Does Blood End Up in Phlegm?
Phlegm is a common product of cough. Phlegm is produced when the immune system wants to get rid of irritants present in the body. On the other hand, phlegm with blood in it can be produced due to a lung infection. This occurs when phlegm while traveling through the respiratory tract gets tinged with blood. Since the bleeding may occur anywhere within the respiratory tract, phlegm with blood in it is only a symptom that is not enough for diagnosis. It simply indicates that there is a problem somewhere in the respiratory tract that must be identified in order to diagnose a disease.
Causes of Bloody Phlegm
Phlegm with blood in it may occur due to many conditions. As already mentioned, bloody phlegm may be caused by a nosebleed. In case of severe strep throat infection it can be due to throat bleed. Vessels that line respiratory tract may burst and also cause phlegm with blood in it. This may happen with severe allergies. Sometimes, bleeding in the stomach can be the source of the blood in phlegm.
An individual may cough up bloody phlegm due to many chronic lung infections. They include:
- Lung fibrosis
- Ruptured blood vessel in the lung
- Lung abscess
- Cystic fibrosis
- Fungal lung infection
Lung cancer is a fatal disease that most often affects people who excessively smoke. It is one of the major causes of phlegm with blood in it. In people with lung cancer the phlegm is usually very thick with blood in it. While coughing up such phlegm an affected person may experience difficulty in breathing. One should seek medical help as soon as possible if he or she expels thick and bloody phlegm.
Phlegm with blood in it may also be the sign of some cardiovascular diseases. For example, congestive heart failure, arteriovenus malformation and valvular heart disease like mitral stenosis or mitral regurgitation are all accompanied with bloody phlegm. Phlegm with blood in it coughed up in the morning is associated with an underlying heart disease.
Phlegm with blood in it can be produced due to other conditions such as sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, lymphatic disorders, hemophilia, thrombocytopenia and thromboticytopenic purpura. Bloody phlegm may be also the side effect of certain medications.