Bloody Sputum (Blood in Spit): Causes and Treatment

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Bloody sputumEver had one of those days where you coughed or perhaps hacked up a loogie and saw something frightening? Some blood in the spit? Bloody sputum (otherwise known as blood in spit) can be a little scary at first—seeing streaks of blood in any bodily fluid is a bit unnerving. But is it really a sign of doom? Does it mean you need to see a doctor immediately or could bloody spit be something non-life threatening? In this article, we’ll take a look at bloody sputum causes, blood in saliva symptoms, and what it all could mean for your health.

What Causes Blood in Saliva?

Unfortunately, blood in saliva causes are fairly numerous. The causes can range from issues in the mouth to problems in the intestines. Your blood in saliva symptoms could be related to several underlying medical conditions. That being said, there a few things that cause blood in saliva that you should be aware of.

1. Infections

Bloody spit can be caused by any one of a number of infections. Some of the more common infections include bacterial infections (especially those around mouth, nose, and throat), gum disease, and gingivitis. More serious infections like syphilis and gonorrhea can also cause bloody spit. Viral infections like chicken pox and herpes can also cause blood in the spit. On rare occasions, fungal infections can be a cause as well.

2. Trauma

Injury and trauma can also be behind your bloody spit, especially if that trauma is in the mouth area. Dental surgery; a bite inside of the mouth; or chemical trauma caused by chewing tobacco, smoking, and caustic chemicals may be to blame.

3. Cancer

Unfortunately, cancer can lead to blood in the saliva. This is especially true in cancers of the oral variety, but leukemia and lymphoma can also be behind it.

4. Nutritional Deficiencies

Sometimes a lack of proper nutrition will cause issues that lead to blood in your spit. Scurvy and anemia can both cause blood in the spit.

So, those are some spitting blood causes. Let’s get to the real question: Is spitting blood dangerous?

Blood in Saliva May be Dangerous

You have blood in your saliva; it’s noticeable in your spit. But does that mean it’s dangerous? Are you in for some serious health issues due to the blood in the spit? The answer is maybe. It really depends on what it is causing the blood into your spit. If it’s something like syphilis or cancer, then, yes, that’s a dangerous sign. But if it’s something like gum disease, then it isn’t an immediate issue. Regardless of the cause, blood in the spit is a sign that something is going wrong and needs to be looked at by a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

How to Diagnose Bloody Sputum

The first thing the doctor will go over with you is your health history. This will rule out or rule in the potential causes of your bloody sputum before a physical examination. Questions will probably include how much blood you’re coughing up, how often you’re coughing the blood up, and how bloody the spit is. This will usually be followed by a physical exam. This can include listening to the lungs, listening for a rapid heartbeat, X-ray, CT scan, and bronchoscopy. Depending on the results, the doctor may also want blood samples to test for infections and diseases.

Once the examinations are done and a diagnosis has been reached, treatment can begin.

Treating Bloody Sputum

Your spitting blood now has a cause thanks to an examination and diagnosis; the next step is treatment. Due to the multiple causes of bloody sputum, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. In the case of a simple oral problem, it may be as easy as improving your oral hygiene or taking a round of antibiotics. The same goes for a viral infection (minus antibiotics). If you’re unfortunate and the cause of the bloody sputum is cancer, then your treatment is going to be much more involved.

The most important part of any treatment is to listen to your doctor and follow any directions to the letter. The sooner you begin proper treatment, regardless of what the actual issue is, the sooner you can be on the road to recovery. But the best way to treat anything is to never get it in the first place.

How to Prevent Bloody Sputum

Trying to prevent the myriad  conditions that can cause bloody sputum is a nearly impossible task. Some health situations just can’t be avoided. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risks.

1. Don’t Smoke

If you’re already a smoker, this may be easier said than done. Smoking can cause a number of problems that lead to your bloody sputum. From ulcers in the mouth and throat to cancers of various sorts, the health issues that can arise from smoking are at least worth an attempt to quit.

2. Drink Lots of Fluids

Drinking lots of fluids can keep your various systems running smoothly and help reduce the thickness of phlegm during a sinus infection, which can lead to blood in the spit.

3. Clean Your House

Cleaning your living areas and reducing the amount of dust and dirt in the air can reduce the number of irritants in your respiratory system, which can cut down the number of possible infections.

If You are Spitting Blood, Get Yourself Checked Out!

Spitting blood may not seem like a big deal, and in reality, it might not be. You may have just brushed your teeth too roughly or not enough. You may just have a small sinus infection. But as we’ve pointed out, blood in your spit could also be the first signs of something very serious that needs your attention right away. If you begin to notice bloody sputum on a regular basis, go see a doctor.



Sources:
Dr. Chris, “Blood in Saliva: Causes of Bloody Spit, Saliva,” Health Hype, http://www.healthhype.com/blood-in-saliva-causes-of-bloody-spit-saliva.html, last accessed April 6, 2017.
“Spitting Blood,” Health Grades, https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/digestive-health/spitting-blood–symptoms, last accessed April 6, 2017.
Mammadli, R., “Blood in Saliva,” Health Recovery, https://iytmed.com/blood-in-saliva/, last accessed April 6, 2017.
Gotter, A., “What Causes Blood Tinged Sputum? 25 Possible Conditions,” Healthline, http://www.healthline.com/symptom/blood-tinged-sputum, last accessed April 6, 2017.

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