By Dr. Ankit Kumar, General Physician
Haemoptysis or hemoptysis is the name for the clinical condition causing human beings to cough up blood. In this condition, you may find blood in your mouth after a bout of coughing. This blood may come up in several forms. It may be small amounts, barely causing a stain or smear. On the contrary, it may also be a substantial amount of bleeding.
There is one necessary condition that must be fulfilled by your disease to qualify as haemoptysis. The blood must be travelling upwards from the lungs, farther down from the vocal cords. It should not be blood coming from the nose due to a bone fracture or related causes.
Causes of haemoptysis:
You may get haemoptysis due to a number of reasons, like:
• Lung cancer.
• Tuberculosis (popularly abbreviated to TB).
• Formation of a blood clot inside the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
• Heart conditions, such as the left ventricle becoming unable to function.
• Infection caused by the introduction of a hostile foreign particle with normal breathing, or excessive smoking.
Diagnosis and treatment:
Some cases of haemoptysis become so complicated the patients need to be administered stabilising medications before the actual diagnostic process begins. Once the process begins, different methods are employed depending on the frequency of bloodied cough, the amount of blood in each bout, your medical history, and an affirmation of whether you are a smoker.
Accordingly, a CT scan or X-ray of the chest is prescribed. In some cases, a bronchoscopy (imaging the interior of your respiratory pathway) is also medically required. The interior of the nose and your temperature need to be checked as indicators of an underlying infectious fever. The fever may cause your cough to have blood in it, which will not be coming from the lungs.
The treatment varies according to the underlying cause. In case of infection being the underlying cause, you will be prescribed antibiotic or antibacterial medication. If your case is very severe, however, and you need stabilisation before starting treatment, you will need surgery.
Haemoptysis is a serious health issue that needs to be checked by a doctor in each of the underlying causes. It has the potential to turn lethal, or irreversibly damaging to your body. Some countries have helpline contacts to call in case of a sudden episode, given the severity of the disease. Keep an eye on your health for even the slightest symptoms, and consult your doctor if you ever get any.