Blood in the Sputum

Dear Ask The Doctor:  I recently started spitting up very dark bloody phlegm. I have not had a cold just some minor congestion. I do smoke about a pack a day and have been for 10+ years. I currently do not have health insurance so I am wondering if this would warrant a trip to the er?

Dear Patient:  Blood in the sputum is known as haemoptysis. This warrants investigation no matter what age group, especially if there is a previous history of smoking. Haemoptysis may be caused by a simple infection, inflammatory disease, or may be due to a malignant growth. I advise attending your family doctor for a detailed history and clinical examination to confirm a diagnosis in your case. If you have significant bleeding, associated with dizziness or lightheadedness, I would advise attending your local emergency department.

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