Hemoptysis Definition, Causes and More

By priscilla
Reviewed: dr. stavarache
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Jacob L. Bidwell | Robert W. Pachner. 'Hemoptysis: Diagnosis and Management.' American Family Physician, aafp.org/afp/2005/1001/p1253.html.
  • 2. Radchenko, C., et al. 'A Systematic Approach to the Management of Massive Hemoptysis.' PubMed Central, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5696556.
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Medical Expert Medical Expert

Hemoptysis refers to coughing up or spitting up blood and comes from the Greek words haima and ptysis, which mean blood and spitting, respectively. Hemoptysis is a common respiratory health problem, and in most cases, the condition heals without medical intervention.

Massive hemoptysis is the severe form of the condition, and identifying it is imperative as it's often life-threatening without urgent treatment. Diagnosing and treating hemoptysis presents challenges that may delay the urgent response required to mitigate massive hemoptysis. Consequently, doctors may employ more than one diagnostic methodology to improve patient outcomes.

1. Causes

There are several causes for hemoptysis. The most common causes include short-term or long-term bronchitis, damaged airways, lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.1Jacob L. Bidwell | Robert W. Pachner. ‘Hemoptysis: Diagnosis and Management.’ American Family Physician, aafp.org/afp/2005/1001/p1253.html. Congestive heart failure, endometriosis, use of crack cocaine, a lung abscess and autoimmune and inflammatory conditions can also cause hemoptysis.

In some cases, a person may develop hemoptysis due to a parasitic infection, non cancerous lung tumors, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary arteriovenous malformations, Hughes-Stovin syndrome, sarcoidosis, use of anticoagulants and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. Foreign objects in the airway and injuries from a car accident or gunshot wound may also cause hemoptysis.


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