What does it mean when you spit up blood clots?

If you’re spitting up blood clots, then it’s time to take a closer look at your health. Coughing up these gnarly pieces of clot is never a welcome sight, and more likely than not, it can be downright alarming. However, before you get too hasty in panic googling everything from rare diseases to WebMD articles (we all know how accurate those can be), let this article quell your fears and shine some light on what might really be causing the problem.


Blood plays many vital roles in our body – from carrying oxygen and nutrients to different organs to forming clots after an injury. While we don’t like thinking about it much (ewww, gross!), there are times when our bodily fluids reveal something sinister going on inside that needs attention ASAP.

The Clot Thickens: An Overview of Sputum & Hemoptysis

Before jumping into reasons behind coughing up blood clots (or sputum) officially known as hemoptysis; It would help if we clarify the difference between them.


Is basically thick mucus secreted by respiratory passages mucous glands’ inflammation-affected lining. Besides being a blend of saliva with mucins that lubricates food passage through esophagus, airways also produce varying amounts of sputum. Usually coughed out due to underlying health conditions such as virus-induced upper respiratory illness (like common cold or flu); bacterial bronchitis; asthma exacerbation; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease flare-ups including chronic bronchitis emphysema overlap type etc.

You must have noticed white or colored phlegm come out while blowing nose during sinus infection episodes or green-yellowish mucus while fighting chest congestion with antibiotics like Amoxicillin. Well, my friends, that’s just good old-fashioned discharge of sputum.


Now Hemoptysis, on the other hand, is a critical condition that results from bleeding air passages and lungs’ tissues’ inability to produce clots in such areas.

Where sputum production is coughing up hard jelly-like lumps mostly due to internal bleeding; Coughing up blood (usually bright red) spontaneously or owing to chest straining can also occur simultaneously with/without spitting out the bloody chunks of coagulated blood in such cases.

What are Blood Clots?

A thrombus plug formed by platelets gathering together around damaged vessel walls triggered by exposed collagen fibers beneath broken endothelial layers after any injury/
Blood clotting activity normally starts if you harm your skin or have some minor injury – say it while chopping vegetables for dinner or cycling outside when your leg hits against something sharp needles lying on the path accidentally.

The resulting liquid leaking out of harms way coagulates into a mass that seals off further oozing as fibrinogen turns into mesh-like fibrin substances trapping necessary cells causing inflammation response followed by regenerative process over time! These wounds tend not risk one’s life unless they bleed too much here they might call it deep vein thrombosis when occurred within larger vessels like veins supplying legs/arms pelvic area even lungs sometimes. A clot becoming detached may travel through bloodstream eventually getting lodged somewhere else creating blockage issue severity-wise threatening fatality sometimes hence why follow-up anticoagulant therapy must be monitored closely upon thrombophilic disorder diagnosis onset: Why am I boring you with lecture-style scientific knowledge?

That brings us back to our question:

What Are Common Reasons Behind Bloody Mucus / Spit-Up Formation ?

While some instances of coughing up bloody, clotted phlegm could be due several benign reasons like :
Dry coughs
Bronchitis caused by irritants
Cigarette smoking
Over-the-counter medication side effects;
Others could indicate a more severe underlying health condition, including:
An acute respiratory viral/bacterial infection causing fever/sore throat/malaise or pneumonia lung blood clots
-Thromboembolism heart disease PVD pulmonary hypertension TB cancer malignancy tumor growth in organs like lungs, stomach etc.

In short, get yourself checked A.S.A.P. by proper medical personnel if you experience reoccurring instances of bright red bloody chunky phlegm coughs – especially those that are increasingly common and/or painful over time!

The Red Flags: Identifying the Symptoms

We Trust You Enough Knowing How To Classify Blood Hemoptysis & Sputum Upto This Point But Look Out Below If Experiencing:

-Upcoming signs along with the mucus / sputum clot indications should spell out trouble for anyone experiencing any abnormal oral secretions
-coughing up brighter hued clotted material consistently increasing frequency amassing more than a tablespoon quantity/couple times weekly
-Nausea Vomiting Fatigue Lightheadedness

While every patient’s symptoms can differ depending on their pre-existing underlying illnesses,
It’s imperative to reach out if your existing health status subjects you to these susceptible situations.

Below is an informative bullet list summarizing some of the critical causes behind what it means when one spits up blood clots;

  • Thrombosis related disorders occur due to poorly managed comorbidity drugs person activity levels etc.
  • Chronic COPD conditions caused mainly owing to smoking habits leading eventually towards bronchial impairment
  • Tuberculosis infections leading chronic hemoptysis episodes sometimes accompanied tubercular pus-like substance-purulent pieces found within sputum itself!
    -Pulmonary arterial and venous hypertensive spells responsible for around ~20% cause of blood vessel-caused hemoptysis episodes each year.
  • Cancerous growth related formation leading towards chronic sputum coughs with visible jelly/bloody mucus mixed in for added dismay and depression of parties involved.

Clearly, these aren’t topics one easily jokes around without including the fact that it’s natural to panic a little when you start spitting up bloody phlegm. Let’s take our mind off that imagery before I make things worse by adding more details – let’s delve into causes behind such gory vomiting-like action instead!

Potential Scenarios

So, what does it mean if you’re coughing up blood clots? Here are some potential scenarios:

Lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer could result in coughing up significant amounts of blood-clotted-sputum – even if not seen/ignored as side reactions at first.
Doctors examine signs comprising wheezing dyspnea infections pain persistent tiredness or unexplained weight loss
weeks/months after witnessing symptoms like( frequent chest heaviness ,labored breathing flair-ups).

Small cell cancers aren’t identifiable through X-rays; thus physicians run full battery actual tests unless multiple other indicators signify severe health conditions that cannot be ignored readily!

Infections Like Pneumonia Or TB

Sometimes bacterial infection leaves distinct crusty patterns within red/orange colored mucoid shell structure pieces making easy diagnoses available.
Underlying poor bronchial mechanisms failing lungs struggle properly sweeping respiratory bacteria entry thereby getting infected overcoming lost protective aerodynamic properties resulting from breathing hoses’ weakening.
Escalating fever (over 101), inability can reach minimum oxygen saturation levels while moving/walking called hypoxia sweaty spells accompanied shortness on breath must clue medical professionals towards taking necessary evaluation steps quickly.

Treatment usually involves antibiotics & anti-inflammatory medicines which doctors instruct patients safely eat/nourish body without needing to cause themselves further harm!


Yes – there is no getting around how unpleasant it is to spit up blood clots. However, whether your symptoms are due to a common respiratory infection or something more severe like cancer or heart disease, now you’re armed with the knowledge needed to pursue prompt and targeted medical attention when necessary. After all, when it comes to your health- there’s no denying that prevention is indeed better than cure!

So next time you’re out here coughing up bloody chunks of coagulated blood; Be sure to remember / patiently sit down while contemplating causes behind such events – ‘Cos not everything is as catastrophic as Google just yet!