Blood-tinged sputum expectorated mucous matter from the airways (lungs, nose, mouth or upper airways) that is tinged or streaked with blood. The blood can be either bright red or dark red in color.
Blood-streaked sputum, sputum contains blood.
Blood-tinged sputum is distinguished from frank hemoptysis—or coughing up blood without or with very little sputum—which can be a potentially life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention. Sputum that is streaked with blood may be due to something as benign as irritation of upper-airway passages due to dry ambient air, or it may a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as pneumonia or a blood clot in the lung, especially if accompanied by other symptoms.
Acute mountain sickness
Congestive heart failure
Non-small cell carcinoma
Dehydration or dry environmental conditions
Diagnosis and Treatment
It will be important for your doctor to determine that blood is indeed originating from the respiratory tract. A complete history and physical examination will be required, along with diagnostic studies such as a chest x-ray and sputum culture and sensitivity. Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.
Call your provider if:
Blood-tinged sputum is accompanied by:
Unexplained weight loss
Blood in the urine
Call 911 if:
Blood-tinged sputum becomes:
Air hunger or gasping for breath
Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
Pain or numbness in the arm, hands or fingers
Pallor or blanching of the arm, hands or fingers
Dizziness or fainting
Frank bleeding or coughing up copious blood or blood clots
Written by: JC Jones MA, RN Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD Written: September 25, 2007 Last Updated: September 30, 2007 Published By:
Healthline Networks Inc.