Definition of Hemoptysis

hemoptysisHemoptysis is bleeding from the lungs, which typically manifests through blood in the sputum. It is typically frothy and bright red, though can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from blood that might originate in the esophagus or stomach.

Hemoptysis that produces a volume of blood greater than the equivalent of two or three teaspoonfuls is a medical emergency that may represent hemorrhage and requires immediate treatment.

The Diagnostic Path and Causes

Hemoptysis is a symptom of numerous health conditions affecting the lungs, and may appear as blood-streaked sputum or primarily blood with little apparent sputum present. The diagnostic path includes chest X-rays, blood tests, and sputum cultures.

Lung hemorrhage is a surgical emergency that generally requires immediate intervention to locate and stop the source of bleeding, commonly a perforated artery. Treatment for less severe bleeding focuses on the underlying cause. The most common cause overall is bronchitis.

Common Causes of Hemoptysis

Cystic fibrosisLung cancer
PneumoniaPulmonary embolism
Tuberculosisviolent coughing
Wegener’s granulomatosis


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