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Acute Hemoptysis


Acute hemoptysis is sudden coughing or spitting up of blood. This occurs when blood vessels in your airway or lungs weaken or break, and begin to bleed. You may bleed in small or large amounts that appear in your sputum (spit). Sometimes, bleeding from other areas, such as the nose, mouth, or throat, cause people to cough or spit up blood.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Blood tests:

You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.

Heart monitor:

This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine may be given to help fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if the bleeding stops.
  • Antitussives: These medicines help control or stop your cough.
  • Vasoconstrictor agents: These are topical medicines used to constrict the blood vessels and slow or stop the bleeding.


  • Cold lavage: Cold saline (salt water) is used to rinse your nose and throat. The cold helps decrease or stop the bleeding.
  • Bronchoscopy: A long, bendable tube is placed into your airway and lungs to check for and stop bleeding. You will be given medicine to help you relax before this test.
  • Bronchial artery embolization: This is also called BAE. Medicine will be injected into your damaged blood vessel to help stop the bleeding.
  • Surgery: You may need surgery to help stop large bleeds if other treatments do not work. Surgery may also be done to look for and correct other problems with your airway.


  • You may need more than one bronchial artery embolization or surgery to stop the bleeding. Even with treatment, your bleeding may not be stopped. Rarely, treatment may make your symptoms worse, or the bleeding may come back. You may need a blood transfusion if you lose too much blood. Massive hemoptysis can be life-threatening. Surgery may also cause chest pain, or spinal cord and lung damage. Rarely, you could become paralyzed, or your lungs may not work as well as before.
  • Without treatment, your acute hemoptysis may worsen. Your bleeding may upset your stomach, or make you vomit. Bleeding may worsen if you vomit. Your airway may close, or you may choke because of blood buildup. Your heart may stop if you cannot breathe. Without treatment, acute hemoptysis may be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Acute Hemoptysis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes