There are numerous reasons why spitting up blood in the morning may occur (of course, the majority of spitting up blood causes are certainly not dependent on time of day). They range in severity from acute injury to serious life threatening emergencies to long term deadly diseases. The problem is that there are so many different reasons why spitting up blood or, coughing it up, may occur, that it is often hard to determine whether or not it should be a considered a cause for panic or not. However, certain hints are available.
The least serious causes of spitting up blood are injury and trauma. This can encompass a wide range of situations including trauma to the teeth and gums as well as tissues in the respiratory tract. For instance, biting the tongue during sleeping or damaging a tooth or gum tissue as a result of grinding or gnawing during sleep can be very benign spitting up blood causes that will often present first thing in the morning. These are normally easy to identify however either by pinpointing the visible source of the blood or because it stops bleeding rather quickly and is not recurring. Another trauma related reason why morning blood may appear has to do with sickness and illness. Drainage that can occur with sinus infections for instance, can lead to dryness that can cause sensitive tissues like those found in the throat to bleed, leading to blood in phlegm matter and mucus.
Hemoptysis, which is the technical term for sputum that is tinged with blood or the act of coughing up blood, can in fact be caused by many things, including the aforementioned trauma. In fact, in addition to oral and throat injuries, drug use can also contribute to spitting up blood causes. Certain types of illicit drugs when used in certain ways can damage the internal parts of the respiratory system, especially those that are smoked, snorted or inhaled, which can lead to bleeding, even hours after use. Hemoptysis from this source may occur daily, only after drug use or more frequently for heavy users. Additionally, aside from illicit drug use, some prescription medications can also lead to the phenomenon as well, like the use of anticoagulant medications or blood thinners.
The problem with throat phlegm is that when blood is present in it, it is not always easy to tell where it is coming from. Blood mixes with phlegm and spit almost regardless of origin, which can lead to foaming and color changing, both characteristics which can make figuring out where it is coming from much more difficult. Thus spitting up blood causes can range from health conditions and terminal illnesses to tooth problems and a sore throat. Because throat phlegm is so common and associated with everyday illnesses and occurrences, finding blood in it often doesn’t pinpoint nor rule out much of anything.
Aside from random injury and mild illness, there are some serious health concerns that can relate to bloody mucus. In fact, that is one of the most common (and scary) pulmonary embolism symptoms. A pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and can lead to sudden death. Essentially, it is a result of the traveling blood clot that has made its way into the arteries of the lungs and it blocking the flow of blood. This more serious of spitting up blood causes will often present with shortness of breath and intense pain in the chest that makes coughing and even breathing difficult. In addition, foamy and pink bloody mucus may present as well, and may be brought up with a cough.
Bloody phlegm can also occur in a wide variety of other health conditions like mitral stenosis, Goodpasture’s syndrome and sarcoidosis. It is also unfortunately one of the more common signs of lung cancer. While it is not uncommon for months or even years to go by until the lung cancer symptoms are evident, once blood containing phlegm appears, it often means that lung cancer has expanded beyond the initial and less harmful and more easily treatable stages.
While smoking is directly related to lung cancer in almost nine out of ten cases, it is also considered one of the most common spitting up blood causes. The damage that smoking can do to the tissues of the respiratory system can be detrimental, and after an overnight rest, it is not uncommon for blood to appear in phlegm and mucus as a result of drying and drainage.
Finding blood in the sputum, especially when it is associated with coughing is very abnormal and should result in medical consultation and care. While it can be attributed to less serious causes, it is also a tell tale sign of many serious health conditions.