Haemoptysis , (Gr. blood, and a spitting), the spitting or raising of blood from the lungs. Haemoptysis may be a simple exudation from the mucous membrane without appreciable lesion, or may be caused by an organic lesion of the lungs; it is most common between the ages of 16 and 35, in the female sex, and in nervous and sanguine temperaments; it appears to be often hereditary, and is most apt to attack those whose professions require prolonged and forced use of the voice; other causes are violent muscular efforts, paroxysms of cough, blows or pressure on the chest, inspiration of irritating vapors or of the rarefied air on high mountains; it is also symptomatic of the suppression of various natural and morbid secretions. It may be exuded from the bronchial membranes, or may proceed from capillaries communicating with the air passages in any part of their extent; the amount varies from a drachm or two to as many pints at a time, and is florid and more or less mixed with air, differing from the dark coagulated blood which comes from the stomach.
An attack of haemoptysis is generally announced by a feeling of heat and oppression in the chest behind the sternum, followed by a cough which brings up the blood; when the quantity is very great, it pours forth without cough, with considerable spasmodic effort. The effect of profuse haemoptysis is that of other great ha3m-orrhages, increased by the terror which spitting of blood always inspires. It sometimes takes the place of the suppressed menstrual or other discharges, and with the same relief to the system. Though spitting of blood sometimes occurs after the violent paroxysms of whooping cough, asthma, and chronic bronchial disease, and also in congestive affections of the lungs, it is more peculiarly the sign of tubercular phthisis or consumption, in the earlier as well as advanced stages of the disease. In making a diagnosis it is important to ascertain the source of the blood which escapes from the mouth, and if determined to be from the lungs, to decide whether it is symptomatic of disease of these organs or merely vicarious in its character. The prognosis in haemoptysis, chiefly on account of this tubercular complication, is generally serious, although immediate danger is usually not great.
The treatment consists in the application of ice to the chest, swallowing lumps of ice, and the administration of internal remedies, called haemostatics, the mode of whose action is somewhat obscure. Among the most popular and efficient is common salt, taken dry, or with very little water. Tincture of chloride of iron or dilute sulphuric acid may be given, it is said, with benefit, and inhalation of its vapor has been found efficacious. Wun-derlich recommends the exhibition of ergot in doses of from 5 to 10 grains until numbness of the fingers is produced. Narcotics may be used quite freely, tending to produce calmness. In all cases the treatment should be assisted by tranquillity of mind, rest, cool air, and looseness of dress. After the attack has ceased, astringent tonics, like iron and quinine, may bo given, care being taken not to produce plethora. The return of the bleeding should be guarded against by avoiding the exciting causes, and attending to the rules of hygiene.