Causes of Blood in Phlegm in the Morning

Nobody wants to wake up in the morning feeling upset and scared, but that certainly happens when you notice blood in phlegm. Coughing is your body's way to get rid of any foreign substances. Therefore, it is quite normal to cough phlegm, but seeing traces of blood in it can make you feel concerned. Let's find out more about it.

What Causes Blood in Phlegm in the Morning?

You are likely to notice blood in phlegm when there is bleeding along the respiratory tract. Recurrent coughing can irritate the mucus lining of the airways and this can cause the blood vessels in the area to rupture and bleed. You may have recurrent violent coughing due to a respiratory tract infection, and this can sometimes lead to hemoptysis. Some other factors may also play a role here.

1. You Have Inflamed Airways

You may notice blood in phlegm if you have chronic respiratory infections, such as bronchiectasis, bronchitis, or asthma.

  • Bronchitis: There are membranes lining the bronchial tubes but they can become inflamed due to heavy smoking or other problems. When you inhale, the air passes through the windpipe and then enters your lungs through bronchial tubes. Any inflammation in the membranes can result in excessive mucus production, which will make you cough a lot.
  • Bronchiectasis: You develop this condition when there is an abnormal dilation of your airways. This can happen when the muscle and elastic tissue of the airways are destroyed due to inflammation of the airways or recurrent infection.
  • Asthma: This respiratory condition leads to constriction of airways due to constant exposure to allergens. You will also experience wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

2. Lung Cancer

Severe cases of lung cancer may have life-threatening consequences. People who smoke a lot are likely to develop this condition. If you develop lung cancer, you are likely to have thick phlegm with blood in it. Blood in phlegm in the morning is usually the first symptom of lung cancer in smokers. You should contact your doctor immediately if you also have breathing problems.

3. Pneumonia

People who suffer from pneumonia or other viral fevers can experience blood in phlegm because of damage done to the bronchia system. You will experience severe symptoms with pneumonia as compared to other viral infections. Acute cases of pneumonia may lead to life-threatening consequences.

4. Heart Disorders

You are likely to spit blood when you have a cardiovascular disease. Some vulvar heart diseases such as arteriovenous malformation, mistral stenosis, and congestive heart failure can make you see blood in the phlegm. If you often see blood in phlegm in the morning, it could indicate heart disease.

5. Pulmonary Embolism

You usually require urgent medical attention when you spit blood in the morning, as it could indicate pulmonary embolism, a condition in which a blood clot causes some form of blockage in the arteries of the lungs. This restricts the flow of blood to the lungs and leads to several complications. If you have pulmonary embolism, you may spit out foamy blood.

6. Tuberculosis

If you spit blood while coughing and that does not happen in the morning only, it could indicate you are suffering from tuberculosis. The use of tobacco is the major cause of tuberculosis. It is therefore important to avoid tobacco in every form to stay healthy.

7. Trauma

Any type of trauma can make you see blood in phlegm in the morning. It is usually common in case of motor vehicle accident or gunship wound. Sometimes, any damage to the tissues of your gums can produce blood. Some people cough up blood due to sinus related problems.

8. Infections

It is possible to cough up blood when you have contracted a bacterial infection. Though it is more common with bacterial infections, fungal infections can also cause the same. This usually indicates that those organisms have damaged the lung blood vessels. You will experience fever and other symptoms as well.

What to Do If There Is Blood in Phlegm in the Morning?

As you may have gathered, so many conditions can make you cough up blood, so it is important to talk to your doctor if it happens often. Be sure to seek immediately medical attention if:

  • You cough up more than a couple of teaspoons of blood.
  • You also experience dizziness, chest pain, lightheadedness, or fever.
  • You are losing weight and do not feel hungry.
  • You also notice blood in your stools or urine.

Your doctor will ask about whatever symptoms you are experiencing and then conduct a physical exam to make a correct diagnosis. Be sure to call 911 or accident and emergency department if you are coughing up a lot of blood or finding it difficult to breathe.

In some cases, your doctor will order some tests to determine why you are coughing blood. In most cases, they ask you to have your sputum checked for tuberculosis. Sometimes, you require blood tests as well. Your doctor may ask you to see a specialist for a chest X-ray or CT scan. They may also ask you to have a test called a bronchoscopy to check the condition of your airways. You may actually require a number of tests to confirm where the blood is coming from.


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