The lungs are a pair of organs in the chest responsible for respiration, a process that involves breathing in air and adding fresh oxygen to the blood, which then carries the oxygen to the cells. Many factors and conditions can alter how the lungs function, such as lung cancer and respiratory infections. One sign of poor lung functioning is blood in the lungs, often only noticed when it is coughed up.
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When one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked, this leads to a condition called pulmonary embolism. A common symptom of pulmonary embolism is bleeding in the lungs. When unexplained symptoms of chest pain or shortness of breath appear, typically a cough bringing up blood follows. The severity of this condition depends on the level of blockage in the lungs. Pulmonary embolism may be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, a bacterial lung infection, found in people with pneumococcal pneumonia, releases toxins that cause severe bleeding in the lungs. This condition, known for short as pneumococcus, infects the upper respiratory tracts, and antibiotics may not help prevent progression of the toxins. Internally the condition may cause fluid buildup in the lungs, leading to breathing difficulty and coughing up blood.
Lung cancer has many symptoms, such as chronic cough and blood in the lungs. The bleeding resulting from lung cancer may become severe, and medical treatments to control bleeding are available.
The National Lung Health Education Program indicates that other causes for bleeding lungs may include pneumonia and lung abscesses. Pneumonia causes infection and inflammation in the lungs. Bleeding in the lungs from pneumonia is rare, but medical consultation is often necessary to treat any symptoms of pneumonia to prevent complications. Lung abscesses may develop as a result of infections or appear as symptoms of other medical conditions.