Why Do I Taste Blood When I Cough Vector

Why Do I Taste Blood When I Cough? (2024)

by | Updated: May 29, 2024

The unsettling experience of tasting blood when coughing can be both alarming and confusing for many individuals.

This phenomenon, medically referred to as hemoptysis, can stem from a range of causes, from benign to serious health conditions.

Understanding the underlying reasons is crucial for addressing this symptom effectively.

This article explores the various factors that can lead to the tasting blood while coughing, providing insight into when this symptom may warrant medical attention.

Why Do I Taste Blood When I Cough?

Tasting blood when coughing could be due to several reasons. It may indicate the presence of blood in the mucus, often resulting from respiratory infections, bronchitis, or more severe conditions like lung cancer or pulmonary embolism. However, a metallic taste can also result from medications or poor oral health. Always consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

Person coughing and tasting blood during cough vector

Is it Normal to Taste Blood When Coughing?

No, tasting blood when coughing is not normal and should be addressed with immediate medical consultation.

This symptom could be indicative of various conditions, ranging from minor irritations or infections to more serious concerns like lung disorders or gastrointestinal issues.

Receiving a timely and accurate diagnosis is crucial to address any underlying health issues and to determine the appropriate course of action or treatment.

What is Hemoptysis?

Hemoptysis is the medical term for coughing up blood or blood-streaked sputum from the lungs or bronchial tubes.

It can be a sign of various respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, pneumonia, lung cancer, or tuberculosis, and requires immediate medical attention to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

The severity can range from small amounts of blood to coughing up significant amounts, impacting respiratory function.

Causes of a Metallic Taste When Coughing

Experiencing a metallic taste when coughing can be a bewildering experience, often causing concern.

The causes for this are multifaceted, ranging from exercise-induced conditions to more chronic respiratory ailments. Understanding the underlying reasons is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Edema

Exercise-induced pulmonary edema refers to the accumulation of fluid in the lungs after intense physical activity.

This condition can lead to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and a metallic taste, especially when exerting at high altitudes.

It is vital to manage physical activity levels and seek medical advice if symptoms persist.


Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflamed airways that can restrict airflow, causing wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing.

A metallic taste can occur due to the production of sputum or the usage of certain asthma medications. Regular monitoring and management of asthma symptoms are essential to avoid complications.


Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur rapidly. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, swelling, hives, and a metallic taste in the mouth due to changes in saliva composition or blood presence.

Immediate medical attention is imperative in cases of anaphylaxis.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections, caused by viruses or bacteria, often lead to symptoms like coughing, congestion, and sometimes a metallic taste due to blood-tinged mucus or post-nasal drip.

Prompt treatment with appropriate medications, if required, and supportive care can help in resolving these infections.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting the mouth and stomach (esophagus).

This acid reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, and a metallic taste in the mouth when coughing.

Management includes lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, medications, or, in severe cases, surgery.


During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations can alter taste perceptions, leading to metallic or sour tastes in the mouth, often exacerbated by coughing.

Additionally, prenatal vitamins or iron supplements taken during pregnancy can contribute to this altered taste sensation.

Generally, these taste alterations are temporary and resolve post-pregnancy.

Certain Medications

Some medications can cause a metallic taste as a side effect, particularly when coughing, due to changes in saliva composition or excretion of the medicine’s components.

These medications may include certain antibiotics, antihypertensives, and antidiabetic drugs.

Consulting a healthcare provider for alternatives or management strategies is recommended if the metallic taste becomes bothersome.

Treatment for a Metallic Taste While Coughing

Treating a metallic taste when coughing necessitates addressing the underlying causes and incorporating therapeutic interventions accordingly.

Here’s a look at some potential treatment options.

  • Antibiotics: When a bacterial infection, such as a respiratory infection, is the root cause, antibiotics can be essential in managing symptoms, including the metallic taste associated with coughing, by eradicating the infecting bacteria.
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): For individuals suffering from GERD, PPIs are instrumental in reducing stomach acid production, thereby alleviating symptoms like heartburn and the metallic taste that can arise from acid reflux during coughing episodes.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Modifying lifestyle and dietary habits is often a foundational step in managing conditions like GERD and asthma. Avoiding trigger foods, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and incorporating regular exercise can significantly impact the frequency and severity of symptoms, including the metallic taste.
  • Antitussives and Cough Suppression Therapy: Cough suppression therapy and antitussives can help in managing persistent coughing, thus reducing the metallic taste experienced during coughing. These can be particularly beneficial when a chronic cough is contributing to the taste alterations.
  • Alteration in Medication: If certain medications are inducing a metallic taste, consulting a healthcare provider for alternatives or adjustments in dosages is vital. Balancing the benefits and side effects is crucial to maintaining optimal health.
  • Regular Dental Hygiene: Maintaining good oral health through regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can also help in eliminating any metallic taste arising from poor oral hygiene or dental issues.
  • Treatment of Underlying Conditions: Managing conditions like asthma and anaphylaxis with appropriate medications and interventions is crucial to alleviating associated symptoms like metallic taste during coughing.
  • Hydration: Staying adequately hydrated can assist in maintaining saliva balance, potentially reducing the metallic taste by washing away metal ions and bacteria present in the mouth.

Remember: It is essential to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to the individual’s specific condition and symptoms.

FAQs About Tasting Blood When Coughing

Should I Be Worried If I Taste Blood When I Cough?

Yes, tasting blood when coughing is concerning and warrants medical consultation. It could indicate various conditions, ranging from infections to serious lung diseases.

Immediate evaluation is crucial to rule out severe conditions and initiate appropriate treatment.

Why Do I Taste Metal When I Cough but No Blood?

Tasting metal with no visible blood can be due to several reasons like medication side effects, dental problems, or respiratory infections.

The metallic taste may originate from altered saliva composition or other changes within the body, necessitating a thorough examination to identify the cause.

Is Tasting Blood After I Cough a Sign of COVID-19?

While coughing is a symptom of COVID-19, tasting blood is not typically associated with it. However, persistent coughing can cause irritation and slight bleeding, leading to a metallic taste.

It’s crucial to monitor for other COVID-19 symptoms like fever and shortness of breath and get tested if needed.

When to See a Doctor for Tasting Blood When Coughing?

Consult a doctor immediately if you experience a persistent metallic taste or visible blood when coughing.

Early medical intervention can help diagnose underlying conditions, whether mild, like infections, or severe, like pulmonary disorders, ensuring timely and appropriate treatment.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing the taste of blood when coughing can be unsettling and is often a signal from the body that should not be ignored.

It can be the manifestation of various conditions, mild to severe, requiring different approaches and treatments.

Identifying the underlying cause is essential in managing the symptom effectively.

Therefore, anyone experiencing this symptom should promptly consult with a healthcare provider to rule out serious conditions and receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if required.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Farzan S. Cough and Sputum Production. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990.
  • Corey R. Hemoptysis. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990.
  • “COVID-19 and Your Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020.

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