No matter the amount or color of blood or phlegm mixed with blood that you cough up, you need to call your doctor immediately. Many times, when the problem is a burst blood vessel caused by a frequent cough, your doctor will tell you to take it easy for a few days until the vessel heals. If, however, you’ve coughed up more than a teaspoonful and it’s bright red, brown and coffee ground-like, or frothy pink, your doctor will usually suggest that you go to the hospital for further examination.
And if you have a relative or friend over the age of 60 who has any of these symptoms, even coughing up less than a teaspoonful of blood or phlegm mixed with blood, you should drive that person to the emergency room as soon as possible. The doctor will take a complete medical history and physical exam, including blood tests and sputum cultures, along with a chest X ray and bronchoscopy. The treatment will depend on the cause, though it will usually consist of antibiotic therapy.