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Smoking and Tobacco

Blood in my phlem???

11/03/2005

Question:

I should start off by saying i am a smoker......but not for long, i am finally on the path of hating this horrible addiction and no longer smoking. I have no physical problems that I notice with the exception of one: blood in my phlem. I notice it in the morning when i hack up a big ball of phlem or if i really try and spit up phlem from the back of my throat later on. I also notice that i constantly have somewhat of a nasal drip, which i expect is from smoking. I have no breathing problems, no tightness in my chest ( with the exception of the past day which i`ve noticed some tightness in the upper area, but nothing serious, i think ) and i dont cough up any blood, no coughing what so ever. I also had a chest xray about 6 months ago because i saw some blood, and everything seemed to be clear as a whistle. So my question is, what could this phlem be from? I should mention I`m 30 years, and have smoked for 10 years ( unfortunately ). I have noticed the blood for approx 8 months.....that i can remember. Does anyone know what it could be from or what ( i imagine smoking of course ) it may be a symptom of?

Answer:

You have made a very important step in recognizing that you are on your way to quitting cigarette smoking. A symptom, like a cough, may sometimes help someone commit to that critical decision.

Information on the connection of cigarette smoking and disease was first published 40 years ago in 1964 when the first Surgeon General linked smoking and chronic bronchitis and cancers of the lung and voice box. During the past 40 years, the scientific evidence on cigarette smoking and disease has expanded tremendously. In 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General's report on the Health Consequences of Smoking was published.

A section on respiratory symptoms in adults was included in the 2004 report. Coughing was higher among cigarette smokers than nonsmokers, and the amount of coughing increased with the amount smoked. For example, people who smoked a pack and a half each day were 7 times more likely to have a chronic cough than nonsmokers. In addition, chronic respiratory symptoms (such as coughing, phlegm, and wheezing) increased with an increased number of cigarettes smoked per day. The good news - all respiratory symptoms decreased over the follow-up period after people quit smoking.

Cilia - tiny hair-like projections in the airway - normally sweep mucus out of the airways. But cigarettes paralyze these cilia, and they can no longer keep the airways clean. This can lead to inflammation. Mucus may be lightly streaked with blood if nose and airways are inflamed. To find the source of blood-streaked mucus, a health care provider will examine your nose, sinuses, and throat, which would include the upper part of your windpipe. Coughing up any significant amount of blood is always a serious medical condition and warrants immediate treatment.

You have made a wise decision to stop smoking. At this time, quitting smoking is the most important thing that you can do for yourself. For information on ways to be successful - see the tobacco section on the the Surgeon General's website.

 

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Response by:

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University