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Old 10-30-2008, 08:33 PM   #1
Celeste Boyd
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Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

Ok, so I've done a bunch of poking around the internet on this one, but I can't seem to get a straight answer. So I'm coming to CrossFitters, hoping someone can give me the scoop.

Ever since I can remember (i.e., since I was a teenager, and maybe even earlier), I've tasted blood after intense workouts, and I often end up coughing for a while as well (i.e., at least a few hours after the workout). It's not completely consistent, but it happens often enough that it's annoying... it feels like my throat is burning, and the coughing usually hurts a little (not enough to be alarming, and it goes away after a while).

I always thought it was just a normal response to working hard (although it's one of the reasons I hate running so much and, consequently, am terrible at it), but I was talking to my brother and dad recently, and neither of them have ever experienced it.

Part of me is hoping it's normal, and there's nothing wrong with me. But the other part is hoping it's not normal, and there's something I can do about it.

Anyone have the same issue? Anyone have any idea what it is?

Thanks!
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Old 10-30-2008, 08:54 PM   #2
Frank E Morel
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

Well this could be one of several things but really need to be seen by a doctor .. I suspect that lung specialist is going to be able to help the most.

Cough up blood after exercise is not common .
likely things to be considered..
1- undiagnosed asthma, .. your lungs are stiff and the amount ventilation demands placed on the lungs are causing irritation.
2- you are rupturing vessels in the windpipe due to raised blood pressure from strain.
3- dehydration from massive volume of air in and out of your lungs.


This is all speculative ... you need to see a lung specialist and see if its needs a scope to see inside the lungs or not.

Regardless... see a MD on this one.
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:16 PM   #3
Andy Shirley
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

I would lean towards Exercise Induced Pulmonary Edema. It seems as if this could be highly under-diagnosed in the general population(well gen-pop of people who push themselves real hard at exercise), and Crossfit metcons seem perfect for it. Its also pretty common in racehorses.

http://www.chestjournal.org/cgi/content/full/126/2/394 wfs

http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/co...e2=tf_ipsecsha
(that one might not work, I'm at work and it had me logged in)

Here is Abstract:
"Intense exercise impairs the integrity of the pulmonary blood-gas barrier in elite athletes

SR Hopkins, RB Schoene, WR Henderson, RG Spragg, TR Martin and JB West
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, USA.

The blood-gas barrier must be very thin to allow gas exchange and it is therefore subjected to high mechanical stresses when the capillary pressure rises. In some animals, such as the thoroughbred race-horse during intense exercise, the stresses are so large that the capillaries fail and bleeding occurs. We tested the hypothesis that, in elite human athletes, the high capillary pressure that occurs during severe exercise alters the structure and function of the blood-gas barrier. We performed bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in six healthy athletes, who had a history suggestive of lung bleeding, 1 h after a 7-min cycling race simulation and four normal sedentary control subjects who did not exercise before BAL. The athletes had higher (p < 0.05) concentrations of red blood cells (0.51 x 10(5) versus 0.01 x 10(5).ml-1), total protein (128.0 versus 94.1 micrograms/ml), albumin (65.6 versus 53.0 micrograms/ml), and leukotriene B4 (LTB4) (243 versus 0 pg/ml) in BAL fluid than control subjects. The proportion of neutrophils was similar in athletes and control subjects but the proportion of lymphocytes in BAL fluid was reduced (p < 0.05). There were no differences in levels of surfactant apoprotein A, tumor necrosis factor bioactivity, lipopolysaccharide, or interleukin-8 (IL-8) between groups. These results show that brief intense exercise in athletes with a history suggestive of lung bleeding alters blood-gas barrier function resulting in higher concentrations of red cells and protein in BAL fluid. The lack of activation of proinflammatory pathways (except LTB4) in the airspaces supports the hypothesis that the mechanism for altered blood- gas barrier function is mechanical stress. "

-not medical advice/diagnosis/treatment, I'm just some guy on the interenet, et cetera.
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:34 PM   #4
Frank E Morel
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

excellent find andy... this is very interesting stuff.

looking like the lung specialist is the person to see.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:22 AM   #5
Victor Putz
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

I do want to note that there is a difference between "coughing up blood" and "a taste/smell of blood, with coughing"... only reason I mention is that I have I believe the same thing, ie a "coppery smell in the back of my nose" after really intense aerobic work which indeed is the same sensation as when I've tasted blood--although no blood is in evidence anywhere. And I do wind up coughing, but more dry coughs (feels like a dry throat), and only for a few minutes after.

But as with the OP, it's the reason I hate running (even though I was on cross-country in high school, etc). Could well be that exercise-induced pulmonary edema, which sounds (hopefully) a good deal worse than it really is.

Wonder if there's anything to be done about it.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:41 AM   #6
Christian Lemburg
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

Thanks Andy!

Good spot, that article. I think most sports people know this funny taste and the coughing after pushing really hard compared to their condition.

I have definitively observed it with myself and others in Krav Maga classes, and after long hard runs. Seems to be quite normal, in fact, if you are pushing yourself to the limits.

Regards,

Christian
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Old 10-31-2008, 03:01 AM   #7
Andy Shirley
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

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Originally Posted by Victor Putz View Post
I do want to note that there is a difference between "coughing up blood" and "a taste/smell of blood, with coughing"..
I would say that might only be a difference in degree, not kind. If you are getting the taste/smell, those molecules triggering the sensation are coming from somewhere.
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Old 10-31-2008, 05:48 AM   #8
Victor Putz
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

No, I'd agree with that. My point is just that the first reply said "cough[ing] up blood is not common" and I wanted to reassure folks that this was not an immediately life-threatening "I've been hacking parts of my lungs out and leaving them on the pavement" condition (as I've been doing it for some 37 years now).

Certainly worth investigating, though. And reading articles like that don't make me want to go running, that's for sure.
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Old 10-31-2008, 07:09 AM   #9
Todd A Ferguson
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

Quote:
Ever since I can remember (i.e., since I was a teenager, and maybe even earlier), I've tasted blood after intense workouts, and I often end up coughing for a while as well (i.e., at least a few hours after the workout).
Hi Celeste nothing abnormal about what you describe the great thing is this shows you are pushing yourself hard & forcing your body to adapt to the workouts. The blood taste or copper metallic smell usually happens after an anaerobic workout or if you are not aerobically fit. It comes from Haemoglobin (red blood cells) that are high in Iron (hence the metallic taste or smell) releasing gases into the lungs which intern you will exhale & smell or taste ‘blood’.
For anyone that starts coughing up actual blood go straight to the emergency room & get help.
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Old 10-31-2008, 08:41 AM   #10
Matt DeMinico
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Re: Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts

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Originally Posted by Victor Putz View Post
No, I'd agree with that. My point is just that the first reply said "cough[ing] up blood is not common" and I wanted to reassure folks that this was not an immediately life-threatening "I've been hacking parts of my lungs out and leaving them on the pavement" condition (as I've been doing it for some 37 years now).

Certainly worth investigating, though. And reading articles like that don't make me want to go running, that's for sure.
Celeste isn't saying anything about "coughing up blood". Just "tasting blood" (ever get that "pennies in my mouth" or back of throat feeling after a tough WOD?) And "coughing a lot". Tell me that you don't get a "fran cough" after doing Fran, and you're not trying hard enough.
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