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Cough with blood: a deadly combination, warns expert

Written by: Staff

Lucknow, Feb 24 (UNI) Cough coupled with blood is not an indicator of tuberculosis, but certainly a sign of death, claimed Manoj K Goel consultative physician and pulmonologist from Batra Hospital, New Delhi.

Talking to UNI on the sidelines of 60th national conference of tuberculosis and chest diseases, Dr Goel said here today 1/3rd of all cases of cough-cum-blood were wrongly diagnosed as tuberculosis, but in reality it was a symptom of a dreaded respiratory disorder Hemoptysis.

Hemoptysis is coughing up blood from the respiratory tract. The blood can come from the nose, mouth, throat, the airway passages leading to the lungs, or the lungs, he added.

Blood-tinged mucus in a healthy nonsmoker usually indicates a mild infection and is generally no cause for concern. Indeed, the most common cause of hemoptysis is the least serious, a ruptured small blood vessel caused by coughing and/or a bronchitic infection, he said.

In patients with a history of smoking or who are otherwise at risk for lung disease, however, hemoptysis is often a sign of serious illness, including cancer. Other serious diseases that can cause hemoptysis include bronchiectasis (chronic dilation and infection of the bronchioles and bronchi), pulmonary embolus (a clogged artery in the lungs that can lead to tissue death), pneumonia (a lung infection), Dr Goel maintained.

Hemoptysis can also result from inhaling a foreign body, such as a particle of food that ruptures a blood vessel. Whatever the suspected cause, development of hemoptysis should always be brought to the attention of a physician, Dr Goel said.

While mild Hemoptysis is not a cause of major concern, massive form of the disease -- where by nearly 240 ml or a cup of blood comes out in 24 hours could well portend death if not treated properly.

''In more than 50 per cent cases due to faulty or delayed treatment, a patient is likely to die,'' Dr Goel said.

Most patients who die from Hemoptysis suffer from asphyxiation (lack of oxygen) due to much blood in the airways.

The disorder, as per Dr Goel cannot be detected with the help of X-ray or stethoscope, but requires a proper CT Scan or Broncoscopy.

The ailment can be treated through medication if detected in the prelimnary stages, but in extreme cases where the disorder does not resolve, therapeutic broncoscopy to stop bleeding, occlusion of the bronchus by endobronchial balloon catheters, or placing arterial coils into the artery supplying the bleeding site can be done.

Ultimately, surgery may be done to remove the bleeding site.


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