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Are you coughing up blood? 

Coughing up blood can be alarming but isn’t usually a sign of a serious problem if you’re young and otherwise healthy. It’s more a cause for concern in older people, particularly those who smoke.

The medical term for coughing up blood is haemoptysis.

You may cough up small amounts of bright red blood, or frothy blood-streaked sputum (saliva and phlegm). The blood is usually from your lungs and is often the result of prolonged coughing or a chest infection.

If the blood is dark and contains bits of food or what look like coffee grounds, it may be coming from your digestive system. This is a more serious problem and you should go to hospital straight away.

See your GP as soon as possible if you cough up blood. It’s particularly important to see your GP if:

You cough up more than a few teaspoons of blood.

You also have chest pain, dizziness, fever, light-headedness or worsening shortness of breath.

You have a loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.

There’s also blood in your urine or blood in your stools.

Your GP will be able to assess whether you may have a serious medical condition that needs to be investigated and treated.