Spitting up blood: what it can be and what to do

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The presence of blood in saliva or phlegm can happen due to infection or inflammation of the airways, and can be indicative of bronchitis or bronchiectasis, for example, being usually accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain and tiredness. In addition, spitting up blood can also happen after a blow to the mouth or nose or be a consequence of gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums.

It is important to consult the general practitioner when bloody spitting is frequent, does not improve over time and is accompanied by other symptoms, so that it is possible to investigate the cause and initiate the most appropriate treatment.

1. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is one of the most common causes that lead a person to spit up blood, especially when brushing their teeth, because the gums are more sensitive and fragile due to excess bacterial plaque between the teeth. In addition to bleeding, it is common for gingivitis to be noticed pain, bad breath, redness and swelling in the gum.

What to do: In this case, it is important to consult the dentist for a deeper cleaning of the mouth, in which all existing bacterial plates are removed and fluoride is applied. In addition, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene, brushing your teeth at least 3 times a day and flossing, in this way it is possible to prevent gingivitis. See more details on gingivitis treatment.

2. Use of anticoagulants

Anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin, rivaroxaban or heparin, for example, work by preventing blood clots from forming because they block the action of substances that cause clotting. Therefore, it is normal for people who take these medicines to bleed more easily or have more difficulty in stopping the bleeding, and may cough up blood.

What to do: It is important to inform the doctor of any side effects that may have developed after starting to use the medication, including bloody spitting up. Thus, it is possible for the doctor to evaluate the suspension or change of the drug.

3. Nosebleeds

In some cases, when nosebleeds occur, blood may also come out of the mouth, especially if the person tilts their head back in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Some of the causes that cause nosebleeds can be nose injuries, high blood pressure, presence of a foreign body in the nose, low platelets, deviated nasal septum or sinusitis, for example. Learn more about the causes of nosebleeds.

What to do: To stop bleeding from the nose, it is recommended to hold the nose, however other measures may be recommended by the doctor in case of bleeding depending on the cause, such as the use of medication, nasal sprays or removal of the foreign body, for example.

See in more detail what to do to stop nose bleeds:

4. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is characterized by inflammation of the bronchi that may have symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, phlegm that may have blood, noises when breathing, purplish lips and fingertips or swelling of the legs. Due to the frequency of coughing, the throat is likely to become drier, which can lead to bloody spitting up.

What to do: In this case, it is important to consult the general practitioner or pulmonologist so that the type of bronchitis can be identified and, thus, the most appropriate treatment can be indicated, which may involve the use of analgesics, expectorants, antibiotics, bronchodilators or corticosteroids. Learn more about treating bronchitis.

5. Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a lung disease that causes symptoms such as coughing with or without blood, shortness of breath, malaise, chest pain, bad breath and tiredness. This disease occurs due to permanent dilatation of the bronchi and bronchioles, which can be caused by recurrent bacterial infections or obstruction of the bronchi by foreign bodies, for example, or genetic defects, such as in cystic fibrosis or immotile cilia syndrome.

What to do: There is no cure for bronchiectasis and the treatment consists of improving symptoms and preventing the progression of the disease, and the doctor may recommend the use of antibiotics, mucolytics and expectorants to facilitate the release of mucus or bronchodilators to facilitate breathing.

6. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosisalso known as Koch’s bacillus, which affects the lungs, where it multiplies and leads to the development of some symptoms, such as pain and difficulty breathing, cold sweat, low-grade fever and coughing up blood, which is the main symptom indicative of tuberculosis.

What to do: In the presence of coughing up blood, it is important that the person is referred to the emergency room, as it is possible for tests to be carried out to help conclude the diagnosis and thus initiate the most appropriate treatment.

The treatment for tuberculosis must be guided by the doctor and involves the use of antibiotics with the aim of eliminating the bacteria and which must be used as recommended by the doctor, even if there are no more apparent signs or symptoms of infection, as it is possible to increase the chances of cure.

Learn more about tuberculosis in the video below:


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a respiratory disease in which there is inflammation and damage to the lungs, leading to the appearance of some symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing up phlegm with or without blood and breathing difficulties. Learn how to identify COPD.

What to do: COPD has no cure, but symptoms can be relieved by adopting a healthy lifestyle, using medications such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids or expectorants, for example, and with specific physical therapy for this type of disease.

8. Pulmonary embolism

Pulmonary embolism or thrombosis happens due to the blockage of a blood vessel in the lung, which prevents the passage of blood, causing the progressive death of the affected part, leading to the occurrence of symptoms such as stabbing chest pain when breathing, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.

What to do: The treatment of pulmonary embolism must be done urgently, in order to avoid sequelae, and the doctor usually recommends the use of anticoagulant drugs, which dissolve the clot, analgesics to relieve chest pain and, if necessary, a mask. oxygen to aid breathing and blood oxygenation.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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