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This can be due to bronchitis or pneumonia most commonly, but also to lung neoplasm (in smokers, when hemoptysis is persistent), aspergilloma, tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, coccidioidomycosis, pulmonary embolism, or pneumonic plague.
It can result from over-anticoagulation from treatment by drugs such as warfarin.
Cardiac causes like congestive heart failure and mitral stenosis should be ruled out.
The origin of blood can be known by observing its color. Bright red, foamy blood comes from the respiratory tract while dark red, coffee-colored blood comes from the gastrointestinal tract.
Extensive injury can cause one to cough up blood.