Lung is a vital organ of the body where exchange of gases occurs. Circulating blood is saturated with oxygen that we breathe in the lungs. At the same time carbon dioxide is breathed out through lungs. Lungs lie within the rib cage and are well protected.
Bleeding in lungs or pulmonary hemorrhage is a catastrophic event and a sign of serious underlying medical pathology. Bleeding in lungs can occur due to various reasons such as trauma, infection, cancer, blood disorders, etc. It is noticed only when the blood is coughed out.
Since there are many causes associated with blood in lungs, it needs thorough medical evaluation before beginning the treatment.Treatment may depend on the underlying pathology that is responsible for pulmonary hemorrhage.
What Can Cause Bleeding In The Lungs?
Pulmonary hemorrhage is a serious condition. Small amount of bleeding may not cause any problem, but enormous amount of bleeding from lungs can be dangerous, sometime leading to shock and death. Number of conditions can cause bleeding in lungs such as:
- Infection: Bacterial infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis etc can cause bleeding in lungs because of the damage they cause in the lungs.
- Trauma: Severe penetrating trauma on chest due to a sharp instrument can cause profuse bleeding in lungs. A vehicular accident where the impact occurs on chest is one of the causes for bleeding in lungs. A sharp end of a fractured rib can puncture the lungs leading to its damage and bleeding.
- Lung cancer: Tumor in the lung can infiltrate the lung tissue and damage its lining. This may lead to chronic cough and bleeding besides giving rise to many other symptoms.
- Pulmonary embolism: When a pulmonary artery is blocked by an clot, it can cause bleeding in lungs. Pulmonary embolism is sudden in onset and needs immediate medical care as the condition is life threatening.
- Lung abscess: Lung abscess is a cavity filled by pus in the lung. It is caused due to pyogenic bacterial infection. Hemorrhage occurs due to necrosis and cavity formation in the lung. Besides pyogenic organisms, lung abscess is also caused by fungi and protozoa.
Symptoms Of Bleeding In Lungs
The symptoms of bleeding in lungs may not be apparent in the initial stage. A person comes to know only when blood is coughed out in his sputum. This may be in small or large amount depending on the destruction of lung tissue. There are many other associated symptoms along with bleeding in lungs. They are as follows:
- Cough with blood in sputum. It is dark red, pink, or black in color.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Shallow breathing.
- Pain in chest with each inspiration and expiration.
- Fever, excessive sweating, weight loss.
- Blue discoloration of skin, lip, nails and tongue. The condition is called cyanosis.
- In severe pulmonary hemorrhage, patient may become cold and clammy with low blood pressure, slow respiration, feeble pulse and a state of shock.
Treatment For Bleeding Lungs
Bleeding in lungs needs thorough investigation to rule out serious causes such as pulmonary embolism and lung cancer. Usually if the pulmonary bleeding is scanty it stops spontaneously. However, massive bleeding may require immediate medical treatment.
If patient is in shock where his blood pressure is too low, has bled profusely management of shock is the need of the hour. Patient in such cases may require blood transfusion for blood loss, intravenous fluids for maintaining body fluids and necessary supportive measures.
Once patient is revived from the shock, the cause of lung bleeding is appropriately treated after ascertaining the cause. Most cases are treated with conventional medications. However, sometimes surgery may necessary to stop lung bleeding.