Common Causes of Blood-Tinged Sputum

It can be unnerving to see red-colored streaks in your sputum or phlegm — unless you just ate something that’s red and some bits of it are still in your mouth, you can rest assured that what you are seeing is blood. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t all the time that having blood-tinged sputum is something that could put your life in danger.

For instance, health authorities say that it’s not unlikely for you to spot some blood in your sputum if you have severe and prolonged coughing — such is simply brought about by an irritation somewhere in your upper respiratory tract infection. Someone who is battling bronchitis or asthma may expect so cough up sputum tinged with blood occasionally, and that’s something that can be expected.

But then blood-tinged sputum is commonly associated with all kinds of problems that have something to do with the lungs or respiratory system, many of which can be quite serious.

It’s because of this exactly why seeing a doctor without delay is a must especially if having blood-tinged sputum is accompanied by other unusual signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart rate, dizziness, weakness, profuse sweating and unintended weight loss.

By the way, it’s also possible for the problem to originate from the digestive system, especially if there are also food particles around. Sometimes the blood may be bright red, but other times it may be darker — it all depends on which part of the digestive system the blood is coming from. No matter the case, seeking immediate medical attention is a definite must.

Without any more ado, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common causes of the presence of blood in your sputum:


This is an infection of the lung tissue, and it’s usually due to bacteria. Definitely, it’s something that can cause one’s sputum to be tinged with a lot of blood. Other common symptoms of pneumonia are fever, chills, chest pain, cough and sweating.


A form of lung infection, tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis. Individuals who are at risk of suffering from tuberculosis include those who smoke, have medical conditions that can weaken the immune system, and are living where tuberculosis is very common.

Pulmonary Edema

Simply put, this is a condition in which there’s fluid present in the lungs. Actually, the root cause is often a problem that has something to do with the heart. Needless to say, individuals who are suffering from certain heart-related problems are at risk of having pulmonary edema.

Pulmonary Embolism

Having a blood clot in the bloodstream is a very serious matter as it can travel and get lodged somewhere, thus causing an organ to be deprived of much-needed oxygen. A blood clot in an artery in the lungs is referred to as pulmonary embolism, and it’s regarded as a medical emergency.


Short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD is a long-term medical condition in which the flow of air to and fro the lungs is obstructed. COPD refers to a couple of problems, and they are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Cystic Fibrosis

A disease that runs in families, cystic fibrosis is characterized by the production of excessive amounts of mucus, causing severe damage to the lungs and also some other organs of the body. To date, there is no available cure for cystic fibrosis, although it’s very much possible to control the symptoms and lower complications.

Lung Cancer

Having blood-tinged sputum is oftentimes seen in individuals who are suffering from lung cancer, especially if the disease is already in its late stages. Some of the risk factors for lung cancer include being 40 and above, cigarette smoking, exposure to carcinogens and having a family history of it.

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