We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is Phlegm with Blood a Symptom of a Serious Disease?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated Feb 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Phlegm with blood can occasionally be a sign of a serious disease, but is often the product of minor bleeding in the respiratory system. This condition occurs whenever an individual sees streaks of blood in their spittle, typically following a coughing fit. If a person sees blood in their phlegm, he or she should contact a doctor immediately. Most serious illnesses in which bleeding in the lungs occurs are also accompanied by additional recognizable symptoms that can help doctors identify the source of the disease.

This symptom primarily indicates that there is blood somewhere along the respiratory tract, which includes the nose, sinus cavities, throat, and all regions of the lungs. A nosebleed is the least serious cause of phlegm with blood. A ruptured membrane in the upper regions of the nose can drip blood into the back of the throat, which is then coughed up by the sufferer. This type of injury usually heals on its own within a few hours, or can be cauterized by a medical professional in a doctor's office.

If a nosebleed is not the source of the phlegm with blood, then the next most likely cause is the lungs. Blood in the lungs is generally indicative of a potentially serious problem or disease. Bronchitis and pneumonia are two respiratory diseases which can cause the lungs to bleed, and both are easily treatable with prescription medication and bed rest. These conditions are the product of an infection in the lungs which can cause either a swelling of the bronchial passageways or swelling of the alveoli. Coughing up blood is a rare side effect of these two infections, but does occur on some occasions, and is also typically accompanied by shortness of breath, fever, and chest congestion.

Tuberculosis and lung cancer are two of the most serious causes of phlegm with blood. Tuberculosis is an infection that affects the lungs and can spread through the respiratory tract and into other major organs of the body. Other symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and night sweats, and this infection, when left untreated, often results in death. Tuberculosis can be treated by several doctor-recommended drug courses which last between two and six months, depending on the severity of the disease. This disease has been virtually eradicated in developed countries, like the US and the UK, and preventative vaccines are available for individuals living in countries where tuberculosis still occurs.

Lung cancer is the appearance of cancerous tissue in the lungs, and can eventually spread to any vital organs of the body. The appearance of phlegm with blood usually does not appear until the disease has become extremely advanced. Sufferers with lung cancer may also experience shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, headache, and sudden weight loss. This type of cancer is sometimes treatable with prescription medication, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy when diagnosed in the early stages.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Pippinwhite — On Jan 23, 2014

Obviously, if a person is having frequent nosebleeds or bloody mucus, a trip to the doctor is in order. However, during the winter especially, when the air is very dry, nosebleeds can be a little more common, or seeing blood when you blow your nose.

Blood-flecked sinus drainage is also not uncommon in the winter. Using a nasal spray that addresses dry nasal passages may help. Also, try using an over the counter decongestant for a couple of days to see if the blood clears out of the mucus. If so, it's probably just irritated sinuses.

Still, if the bleeding increases, or hangs on, do see a doctor to check for other conditions.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.